Back in 2017, Uganda Rugby Cranes and Kobs RFC utility back Daudi ‘Muscle’ Semwami switched borders from Uganda’s Rhinos RFC to Kenya Harlequins.
According to Semwami, it was his agent Josh Ntale who had earlier served him the information that Quins were out in search of new recruits.
“After Josh Ntale had informed me that Quins needed a winger, I consulted a few people, among them former Uganda Rugby Cranes coach, currently with Kisumu RFC, Brian Makalama and Joseph Aredo, who was playing there about the move. They told me it was a good opportunity,” he said.
“I arrived in Nairobi during the ongoing 2017 Floodies tournament. I had to wait till pre-season for my trial games which penned out successful. I was later presented with a contract and finalized the move in January 2018 since there were several hold-ups as the Ugandan transfer window was closed,” he added
For Semwami, his two-year stint with Quins culminated to be the backbone of his career growth. The experience attained at the Ngong Road-based side helped propel his career to even greater heights.
“I enjoyed my stay with Quins. It is the biggest highlight of my career growth. From players to staff members, they offered a warm reception. It was an equal opportunity environment where players are nurtured on the basis of what they offer to the team, rather than where they come from,” he said.
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As good shadows bad, Semwami too had downward moments in his stay with Quins. His most dreadful memory, he recalls, is a clavicle injury he sustained during his stay.
“The injury put me out for a while. I felt low and had a rough time before settling on the road to recovery,” he revealed.
Although his stay in Kenya was short-lived, Semwami’s quick adaptability to the Kenyan taste of rugby was evident.
A game he described as “fast-paced”, Semwami revealed he relished every moment he stepped into the field, saying the opportunity also posed as learning ground for him, that he has been sharing with his colleagues at his current club Kobs RFC in Uganda.
“Adapting to the fast-paced Kenyan style of play was a good lesson that I have brought here at home. I have been working hand in hand with my current club coaches and players on employing these skills here and so far it has worked according to plan,” he said.
“Also, the focus on the development of the grassroots level rugby in Kenya is something that I will love seeing being employed here in Uganda. That, and the separation of the 7s and 15s setups, so as to grow the game within our country,” he added.
On the difference between the two countries rugby setup and style of play, Semwami said, “Kenya Cup is very competitive. It has a huge player base from Kenya Cup and Eric Shirley Shield (ESS) side makes it even more competitive. As for Uganda Premiership, it’s an interesting league in its own way. We still have a lot to learn. With some changes from the Uganda Rugby Union (URU), I believe we are getting there.”
Not Kabras, nor KCB but Menengai Oilers and Impala Saracens. These are the “hardest” teams Semwami ever faced in his Kenya Cup run.
“Oilers brought freshness in their style of play that tore down every team differently. Not even Mwamba, KCB or Kabras could counter their attack play. As for Impala, playing them in the derby created a different atmosphere. Their tempo changed from slow-paced rugby to more intense pressure always caught teams off guard,” he confessed.
Locally, Semwami looks up to Kenya Sevens and KCB star Jacob Ojee, who described as a mentor.
“He (Ojee) brings a lot of experience in the sport. His down to earth demeanour also speaks volume about his career. He helped me by giving me pointers on how best I can improve as a player. Been following him for a while and playing against him was such an experience for me. Cyprian Kuto (Quins), Jeff Okwacha (Homeboyz), Derrick Keyoga (Oilers) and William Ambaka (Quins) also make the list,” he said.
Semwami describes his return to Uganda with Kobs RFC as smooth, saying tactics gained while at Quins have been employed to good use.
“I have been putting to use lessons attained from Kenya Cup. We have been focusing on ensuring we still keep the pace and not drop the tempo. Through this, we performed well and won Ugandan Cup. I was leading the top try scorer before the games were suspended,” he said.