Remembering rugby members who died in 2020

Besides being a tough year, it was a sad one for the Kenya Rugby fraternity as we had to say goodbye to key members of our community.

The community lost over 10 members who died following accidents and sickness.

They may be gone from our sight but they are never gone from our hearts.

Below, we remember those members of the game who passed on 2020:

Tony Onyango: On March 4, the Kenya Rugby Fraternity woke up news that Kenyan International Tony Onyango was no more. The utility back died after collapsing while he was at his home.  It was a big loss for KCB and Kenya rugby in general as he was a man that had deligently served the teams.

Tony had played for Kenya Under 19, Kenya 7s and Kenya Simbas. At Club level he featured for Impala Saracens, Strathmore Leos where he helped the side to reach the 2013 Kenya Cup final, won the National 7s Circuit with Homeboyz in 2016 and Kenya Cup in 2018/19 season with KCB.

Eliakim Olima Oundo: The Sigalame high School lock died while undergoing surgery at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. It was after picking a head injury after he collided with an opponent during a third-place playoffs match against Nambale. He was rushed to Busia Hospital and later moved to Life Care hospital in the neighbouring Bungoma County before he was then referred to Moi Teaching Referral Hospital. He succumbed to the injury while in the surgery room.

Allan Makaka: On May 23, rugby fanatics again woke up to another sad news, former Kenya 7s star Allan Makaka had died after ramming into a stationery lorry on Mombasa road. By the time of his death, Makaka a National 7s Circuit winner in 2005 and 2006 with Kenya Harlequins was an employee of Royal Media Services where he worked as the Business Manager for Hot 96.  He is remembered for his exploits with Kenya 7s where he played a total of 57 matches in World Series, scored 28 tries and was ranked 21st overall amongst Kenya’s all-time try scorers on the World Series.

Phares Mbadi: Nondies family lost fullback Phares Mbadi in June. The cause of his death was not revealed by his family.  Phares captained UpperHill to win Nairobi Metropolitan title and led the side to a second-place finish in the National 7s Games in 2016. He was also a key player in at Nondies before he died.

Sebastian Shivoka Shitambasi: KCB legend passed on in August due to illness. The powerful winger who had the nickname Spiderman due to his powerful runs had an illustrous career as a rugby player. He had helped Kakamega High to the 2004 National secondary Schools 7s title and represented the Barbarians in the 2004 Dubai 7s.

At Club level, Seba won three Kenya Cup titles with KCB, was among the founding players at Homeboyz and Kabras. He went on to serve the game even after retirement, coaching the likes of Vihiga, Sigalagala and Mukumu Boys.

Ian Waraba: Five days after the death of Shitambasi, Kenya Harlequins youngster Ian Waraba’s body was retrieved from a dam in Waitaluk area in Kitale County. The youngster drowned while on an outing with friends.  Ian had just been at Quins for a season where he featured for the Eric Shirley Shield side Quins II.

George Kiagai: The lock who played for KPA Eldoret was another player who drowned to death. The incident happen at Moiben in September. Kiagai Played two seasons for KPA Eldoret and also lasted for the same period at Moi Arsonists.

Mohamed Fwamba: The second row who was among the founding members at Webuye RFC died following a road accident.  He had served that club as a second row.

Father Frank Caffrey: Father Frank died in Dublin due to Coronavirus related complications in April. The former St Mary’s Nairobi bursar dedicated most of his life to promoting rugby at the school between 1996 to 2002.

John Gichinga: Gichinga is former Mwamba RFC chairman and prop. He was among the founding players at Mwamba. He played for Kenya as well as East African Tuskers and later rose to become the club’s chairman after founding chairman Justus Mugaa M’impwii exited.  He also served as a match official. He died on 7 October.

George Nyiro: He died a week ago after a short illness. The form three student featured for South Coast Pirates junior team and Kaya Tiwi High School before his death.

My their souls continue resting in peace.

Goodbyes hurt when the story is not finished and the book has been closed forever.

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