How Nondies secured promotion back to Kenya Cup
What you need to know:
- They were axed alongside Impala Saracens, who finished just above them after collecting 17 points also from three wins and eight losses.
- Nondies, founded in 1923 and Impala founded in 1956, are the most successful teams in the Kenya Cup.
The fall from grace to grass can be so humbling that Nondescript players and the technical bench sacrificed so much to return to top flight rugby league.
Nondies, fondly known as the Red Lions, were relegated from Kenya Cup for the first time after they finished last during the 2021/2022 Kenya Cup season with 16 points, having won three out of their 11 matches.
They were axed alongside Impala Saracens, who finished just above them after collecting 17 points also from three wins and eight losses.
Nondies, founded in 1923 and Impala founded in 1956, are the most successful teams in the Kenya Cup.
While Nondies have won the prestigious title a record 17 titles and Impala 10 times, they are the only sides to boast of an unsurpassed five successive crowns.
Nondies won the title from 1978 to 1982, while Impala from 1970 to 1974.
Nondies topped the KRU Championship regular season with 49 points, winning 10 out of their 11 outings, only losing to Impala 7-0 in their last match that did save the Sarries from finishing outside the semi-final play-offs.
Daystar Falcons (44), Kisumu (41) and South Coast Pirates (34) finished second, third and fourth to join Nondies in the play-offs.
Then Nondes and Kisumu would secure Kenya Cup promotion, defeating Pirates and Falcons 39-10 and 19-7 respectively in the semi-finals.
It was all about pride and supremacy as Nondies dismantled Kisumu 24-6 in the KRU Championship final on Saturday at the Ngong Racecourse.
Nondies coach Oliver Callum, who took over with only four matches remaining in the 2021/2022 season, says the commitment shown by players intertwined with the club's culture worked for them.
“Only one player left the club after relegation, a clear show how the players valued the club, which made my new style of play and structures fall in place well,” says Callum, adding that it was humbling that the players honoured training and match days without salaries.
More so, Callum explains that they had one of the most productive pre-season training that lasted for three month.
“I was so fortunate to have players making their commitment to the club as they honoured training sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays before match days on Saturday...their sacrifice was enormous and humbling,” says Callum, adding that his players were quite simple in their basics and executions.
Callum said gaining promotion to the Kenya Cup is just the start as they turn their focus to the Enterprise Cup that begins Saturday and the upcoming season.
“We need to build on our strength and depth but it’s a challenge to recruit since this is a community club. We don’t pay at the moment but it’s something we must look into,” notes Callum.
Callum says that consistency will be key if they will have to stay or match the big boys in the Kenya Cup.
“We can’t afford to move up-and-down in the league...a yo-yo performance or campaign won’t be sustainable,” explains Callum, who acknowledges the fact that some of his players will have aspirations or call up to either Kenya Simbas or Kenya Sevens team hence depth will be paramount.
Callum praised his players for an outstanding session as he singled out youngsters Tony Fidens and Victor Ogena for their leadership that stood out throughout the season.