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Local rugby:It is all about financial muscle

While just about every club has corporate backing of some kind, as is expected in every sport, some clubs are more equal than others when it comes to financial muscle.

Of the independent clubs, Nakuru RFC is the highest earner at the moment, having secured sponsorship of around Sh10 million a year from Menengai Oil through their brand Top Fry.

Deputy coach Jotham Owili says the funding has not only helped the team sort out all expenses at the club, from allowances, food, supplements, gym subscription, and fuelling a bus, which sponsors Menengai Oil gave to the team to ease the transport stress.

Gate collections

The club also benefits from gate collections on game day, and can earn up to Sh100,000 on a good weekend.

“It depends on who we are playing, and at times we hit the Sh100,000 mark for the big games,” said Owili.

Hosting the Prinsloo Sevens, a leg of the National Sevens Circuit, and hosting the Great Rift 10-a-side tournament also rakes in a tidy sum for the club.

Last year alone, Nakuru made more than Sh15 million from the two tournaments’ from     gate collection alone.

The investment has quickly borne fruit, as the Kenya Cup champions are arguably the top 15s side in the country at the moment, having topped the Kenya Cup league phase and winning the Enterprise Cup last weekend.

“We are hoping to hit the 15,000 spectators mark this year. The finances have helped the club grow to where it is, and we expect to get even better,” added Owili.

Former Kenya Cup champions Kenya Harlequins are also among the clubs with heavy financial muscle. Aside from getting Sh5.5 million annually from Cadburys through their Lunch Bar brand, the club’s old boys and well-wishers contribute up to Sh3 million annually.

Quins also host the Christie Sevens, a National Sevens Circuit leg, which brings in up to Sh10 million each year.

“We manage to make ends meet, which allows us to pay our players allowances. First team players get Sh1,750 per game and second team players get Sh1,500. We also give players some bus fare on training days,” said a source at the club who requested anonymity as he is not permitted to talk to the press.

Thika Road based KCB is also one of the well-funded sides in the local rugby scene. The team is owned by Kenya Commercial Bank, who set aside roughly Sh8 million to take care of the club’s activities.

Food and gym money

Despite nesting at their owners’ sports ground in Ruaraka, the Lions still have to pay for food and gym subscription for their players.

Their investment too has come with it positive results, as they finished second to Nakuru in the Kenya Cup league phase, and lost to the same club in the Enterprise Cup final. Kakamega based side Western Bulls, one of the fastest rising sides in the country, also benefits from a sponsorship deal from Mumias Sugar of around Sh7 million a year.

“Sh5 million is in the form of money, while the other Sh2 million is in form of kit, equipment and the likes. It has helped us keep the team’s affairs running, while also getting something small to motivate the players,” said an official at the club.

Kenya Harlequin’s neighbours, Impala, are not badly off either having secured a Sh6 million a year sponsorship deal with Resolution Health for the next three years. In that duration 12 Impala players will also get scholarships to university.

Impala’s was a double victory, as they also secured some assistance from UK based club Saracens, that has seen the club renamed to Resolution Health Impala Saracens.

Relegation threat

This will also be supplemented by revenue from the Impala Floodlit tournament, which brings in close to Sh10 million in gate collection.

Further down Ngong Road is Nondescripts RFC, Kenya’s oldest club at 93 years of age. The club has two sponsors, DHL and Total Kenya, whose combined efforts give the club roughly Sh3.5 million annually. This, however, does not meet their Sh4.7 million debt according to a club officials.

Some clubs have suffered due to lack of investment, most notably University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine. The club receives roughly Sh17,000 per game for home games, and Sh96,600 for away games for players’ allowances.

Varsity rivals

Machine’s fierce varsity rivals Strathmore, have all their expenses taken care of by the institution, which includes food, transport and even scholarships for several students.

This has helped turn the club into one of the best in the country.