The year 2011 went down in history as the first time a KSSSA game was decided through the toss of a coin after the then 15s national champions Mang’u High School and title contenders Kakamega High School could not decisively end the game within the stipulated time limits.
No points were scored as both teams went ahead to tie in the resulting penalty kick out. Lady luck had preserved her smile for Kakamega who went on to be crowned national 15s champions.
Tense coin toss
In the middle of this tense coin toss was KCB and Kenya Simbas forward Griffin Musila. Then captaining the Barbarians, the moment seemed to last an eternity for the now bearded and soft-spoken hooker who started out his game as a back row. They had to win this in one way or another as Kakamega’s 7s campaign had ended in a dismal group-stage elimination at their own backyard. Losing the 7s title meant amends had to be made, and this was the only chance. The weight squarely rested on Musila to deliver home the ultimate prize.
”Our the previous squad had just won the 7s, thus the school had so much expectation, pressure from the old boys and school management, our school had never missed a cup in the past years. We had to beat all odds and with God on our side, we managed to beat the defending champion – Mang’u to make us the champions.”
”It was a tough and interesting game, we played for 80 minutes with no scores, we went for penalties and it was a tie. It was interesting that we had to use a coin to determine the winner but it was the way to go as we had to have a winner at the end of the day.”
An aeronautical engineer by profession and a car enthusiast who makes custom builds in his co-owned garage along Kangundo road, his entry into the sport is not one of the cliche stories of bumping into the sport in high school.
”I got interested with rugby after completing my primary school as it looked interesting. As I waited for my high school posting, I spent most of my time on TV watching rugby games; I really wanted to know what it entails to be a rugby player. When I joined high school, I got the opportunity to try it out. I enjoyed and I have not looked back since then.”
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Green has been the only jersey colour he knows how to don best. The only other club he has turned out for was Kakamega RFC’s ESS side while still in high school. Joining the bankers immediately after high school, he seemed to have found a home as many of his predecessors had taken the same route. Halfback Marlin Mukolwe and flanker Kevin Alfayo came handy in making him feel part of the team. Michael Wanjala, Billy Isabwa Adrian Opondo and Brian Nyikuli all Barbarians would later join them at the Den.
”While in high school, we used to argue on which team is best in Kenya. So after high school, my schoolmates who were ahead of me had joined KCB and they invited me to join them. They called it “Kakamega Crazy Boyz” we had lots of good times.”
Despite finding himself around familiar faces in his rookie season, the forward says hard work and determination were key for him to break through the ranks. This has been the founding aspects of his career since breaking into KCB’s first team in 2013, an elating and career-defining moment according to him.
”Winning the 2013 ESS, most guys were promoted to the Kenya cup side including myself, and we are also part of the three-peat Kenya cup win.”
Having tasted little defeat with the ESS team, this makes his lowest moment so far in his career.
”When I was the captain for the ESS side we lost the finals to Impala, it was the saddest moment.”
2019 was a largely fruitful year for Musila as he got a call up to the national 15s side; a move he terms as expected followed his Kenya Cup exploits. After the exit of long-serving hooker Peter Karia, Kenya Simbas selectors did not have to look far for his replacement with Musila silently waiting in the shadows.
Musila made his debut off the bench against Uganda in the Elgon Cup before going on to rake in massive playing time in the Victoria Cup.
”It didn’t come as a surprise as I had put so much hard work in all the games I played, thus I was expecting a call-up. I was eager to step up and experience another level of my rugby journey.”
”I enjoyed interacting with players from different clubs, the different atmosphere, new characters, creating new bonds as well as being coached by other coaches, different styles of playing but most importantly is representing my country. I plan to continue pushing myself harder so as to be the best at the position am playing.”
Eight years and counting since he made his move to the Ruaraka based outfit, he gives us insight into the secret of success and longevity at the Den; things that have proved alien to some over the years.
”We support and build each other, we pray together and we have a strong support system from our sponsor ‘The KCB Group’, the good coaching skills our coaches instil in us, the management at large and our fans. We appreciate and love them, God bless.”
And now seemingly at the epitome of his playing career, Musila is not planning to take his foot off the gas anytime soon as he aims for the stars. The 2022 World Cup is an achievable dream for Kenya according to the explosive and lethal ball carrier as set in his targets.
”Always give my “A” game in any game I play. To strive to be the best at what I do, being a team player, to be number one. Also, I would like to participate in the 2022 world cup.”
His rugby experience has been that of hard work, determination and a go-getter attitude. According to him opportunity does not come knocking on your door, you have to go out there and seek for it. This is something young players can pick and incorporate in their budding careers.
”As a rugby player, I have learnt to push myself beyond my limits and to always take criticism positively. Being at KCB has taught me the importance of teamwork and how to live as a family. If you want something you have to go get it as you can’t just sit and be given.”
Name: Griffin Musila
Current Club: KCB
School: Kakamega High
Professional: Aeronautical engineer
Honours and Achievements: 3-peat Kenya Cup champion, Elgon Cup winner with Kenya Simbas, Second place finish in Victoria Cup with Kenya Simbas