Mean Machine RFC:Kenya’s richest rugby talent hub


Most university sides find it difficult leaving a mark in the game due to the fact that opposition clubs are moving towards more proffessionalised structures which include spending heavily during transfer periods.

However,there is a University team that has withstood the test of time over the past years,and that is Mean Machine RFC;the University of Nairobi’s rugby team.

Having been founded in 1977,Machine was the first team to be formed by indigenous Kenyans.

During the 1980’s,the club was forced to shut down due to political instability in the country but later recovered and went on to win titles.

One cannot dispute the fact that it is Kenya’s richest talent hub having produced a good number of players who have gone on to feature for both the national 7s and 15s sides as well as representing other clubs.

The team however has of late found the going tough and will have to take part in the second tier,the Championship starting next season after facing the axe from the Kenya Cup.

Machine’s Melvin Thairu in recent action against Blak Blad/Photo/Courtesy

Here,we take a look at some of the players whose careers were ignited at ‘Eschuma’ and later went on to be forces to reckon with in Kenyan rugby circles.

Absalom Mutere
A graduate of Journalism,the late Mutere will be remembered for his great contribution to the revolution of rugby in the country especially in the 70’s when the game was still considered a white man sport.Having graduated from the University of Nairobi,Mutere together with other teammates went on to form Mwamba RFC in 1978.

Former Mean Machine player Absalom Mutere/Photo/Courtesy

Joe Masiga
Commonly reffered to as JJ Masiga,he was among the first players who featured for the university side.Interestingly,Masiga doubled up as a soccer player and featured for Afc Leopards FC and Kenya Breweries(now Tusker FC) in the Kenyan league.

Martin Ndeda
Ndeda featured at scrumhalf for Machine between 1989 to 1991,a period in which the students won 2 Kenya Cup titles.

Edward Rombo
Legendary winger Edward Rombo is well remembered for his fascinating pace and wonderful sidesteps popularly known as ‘Rombo jig’.He led Machine to 2 Kenya Cup triumphs between 1989 to 1990.Rombo also featured for Mwamba RFC as well as Leeds RFC in the United Kingdom.

Rombo(far right) in action for Leeds RFC/Photo/Courtesy

Sammy Khakame
Definitely among the skillful number 10s that the country has ever produced.He consistently displayed wonderful skills ensuring that Machine won several accolades.Khakame also featured for the national 15s team as well as Kenya Harlequins.

Tolbert Onyango
After leaving Nairobi school,the talented scrumhalf went on to join Mean Machine before switching to Mwamba.Onyango also donned national team colours for both 7s and 15s.He has recently had coaching stints in Uganda with varying degrees of success.

Wilson Kopondo
Kopondo who is the current Kenya Simbas skipper introduced himself to the Kenya rugby fraternity while at Machine.

Current Kenya Simbas captain Wilson Kopondo/Photo/Courtesy

Kopondo was then handed a national 7s team call up by then coach Benjamin Ayimba and even captained the Shujaa at some of the international assignments.He currently turns up for Kenya Cup bigwigs Kenya Harlequins.


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