Mombasa RFC life in the KRU Championship league came to a shattering halt in the weekend of February 29 when they lost a do or die game against Mean Machine, a defeat that saw them drop to Nationwide league after five years in the top.
The Coastal side had produced some incredible performances in the past half-decade which saw them grace Kenya Cup in the 17/18 season. Being relegated to Nationwide was definitely the lowest moment in their lives, a fate Newton Malenya claims they never imagined they would be in.
“It was very disappointing to both the players, the management, fans and the Mombasa rugby fraternity at large. It is a place we never imagined we would end,” Malenya told the Scrummage.
The coastal outfit had started their 19/20 campaign on the right note after seeing off previous semifinalists Catholic Monks 10-5 in Mombasa Sports Club. But they couldn’t maintain the tempo, they stumbled in the next one month where they lost four consecutive games including a 36-3 thrashing at the hands of neighbours SC Pirates, a defeat that saw them lose the bragging rights tag of Coast rugby kingpins. When the dust settled, Mombasa were sitting at position 11 having won 5 games and lost 11 matches.
Their devastating run of form was fueled by some of the senior players pulling out of the team and forced the coach to use the players at his disposal, who the majority of them were young and were playing competitive rugby for the first time.
“We didn’t have the depth to run the whole season. We were forced to work with the guys who were available but most of them were young and it was their first time playing competitive rugby,” Malenya said.
At the closing stages of the season, Mombasa had put their house in order. Most players had come back on board in a bid to conjure up some wins in order to stay afloat but it was too little too late to save the sinking ship since the damage had already been done.
“Towards the end of the season, we had senior players but it was too late because we had already lost important games that we were supposed to win. Also, consistency was a major issue, having different guys every weekend makes it difficult to win matches since rugby like any other team sport requires some time for players to gel,” the 6 ft 2inch backrower added.
Malenya and co. have already got over the relegation and they’ve shifted their focus on to the next season which will see them fight for Championship return against the likes of the Technical University of Mombasa[If they’ll still be in nationwide], SC Buccaneers, Malindi RFC among others.
“We all accepted the position we are in. We have already shifted our focus on the next season which is very important for us since we want to make an immediate comeback. We had a meeting with the chairman and as a team discussed the way forward, made changes where they were supposed to and new goals were set. The players are very ready to play the next season regardless of the level and God willing we shall make an immediate return,” Captain Malenya said.
Malenya is pleading with Mombasa fans to be patient a little bit and they’ll post some good results soon beginning with the 7s circuit.
“I urge all our fans to be patient with us and we shall deliver. Let’s pray for this pandemic[COVID-19] to end and we’ll come into the 7s circuit bigger and better,” Malenya concluded.