Eldoret RFC maiden KRU Championship season was a humbling, yet a thorough lesson capped experience.
This is according to head coach David Wachie who was speaking to the Scrummage.
Jostling across demands, from transportation to rehabilitation of incurred injuries in the squad without a formal sponsor, is the toughest lesson the side got to learn, according to Wachie.
Yet, however, the side managed to evade relegation, a horror that always tends to grasp newbie teams in Kenyan rugby leagues.
The side finished in an impressive 8th place, above last year semifinalists Catholic Monks (10th) and neighbour’s University of Eldoret (UOE) Trojans (ninth), whom they boasted a better point difference against.
They managed five wins across the season, amassing 26 points, and were just six points shy of the playoff spot sixth-place finish, occupied by Egerton who bagged 32 points, and coach Wachie was keen to reveal the secret of their performance.
“Preseason planning and implementation is key. Although we were pressed financially, we were able to get a large pool of above-average and committed players at preseason stage which helped a lot,” he said.
Attracting such committed players, explained Wachie, was greatly attributed to small fundings from their club Chairman Eric Tumwa, who is their sole source of funding.
“Luckily we have a good chairman who funded everything. But other times finances got the better of us and we had to give out walkovers. For instance the away game against Mombasa we have deducted two points for not showing up,” he explained.
This, he said, adversely affected the mentality of his players.
“Players are usually distorted mentally when you give away a walkover. We had to encourage players to fight on which was very hard,” he said.
An ambitious playoffs target set by the team at the start of the season was missed by just a whisker, and coach Wachie insists they are still grateful with their overall performance.
“We were ambitious. We were chasing the playoffs. Although things did not roll out according to plan, we are still grateful for how we handled ourselves. We have picked lessons and come next season we are raring to go again,” he noted.
“We never underestimated any team. We always did research on each and every opponent before facing them, which made it easy in identifying how we approach each game,” he added.
With tough financial demands in playing at such a high-level league in Kenyan rugby, Wachie has called out for well-wishers and sponsors to come to support the team, which will, in turn, help nurture talents.
“We have tried every potential sponsor available but unfortunately we have been given empty promises but we are still following. We are calling out to any well-wisher to come to help the team achieve more,” he said.
Eldoret will now focus on the shorter version and 2019/20 season.