Roy Nandwa’s Rugby Journey

Let’s travel back in time, to 10th June 2015, A Wednesday Evening like any other but a unique one for Roy. A well renowned trainer in Bungoma, is walking out of Bungoma Highschool after supervising the rugby team’s training session.

The trainer has a rugby ball in his hand, and this catches the attention of the young man, who runs upto him and requests to hold the ball alittle bit. The trainer can spot the eagerness and enthusiasm the young man has, and quickly asks for his name and the sport he plays, to which Roy responds with his name and goes ahead to state that he plays football.

The trainer takes note that the young man looks athletic, and since Roy is donning the Bungoma DEB Primary School Uniform, he asks him which class he is in, to which Roy says, “I’m in class eight.” Roy then asks whether he could join rugby, but the trainer advises him to complete his primary school studies first and then join them.

Six months later, Roy shows up for training and the trainer quickly recognises him. He watches keenly as the boy goes through the necessary fitness drills, and after afew weeks, he believes the boy is ready to play.

They head down to Bukembe with the local team, and Roy gets a chance to play in the second team. His first game against Bukembe B he scores a stunning try, right after kick off. Showing great speed,strength and endurance to land the try. The trainer also notes his great defensive abilities, something that has stuck with Roy to this very day.

The next weekend the team is headed to Webuye, and Roy also gets a couple of minutes off the bench. It was this experiences that shaped the young man’s perception of Rugby and he has never looked back.

January 2016

It’s time to say goodbye, as the trainer heads back to Nairobi to continue with his studies and also his rugby career in the big city, Roy is also off to Kapsokwony Highschool in Mount Elgon Sub-county.

The trainer, though, is not convinced that Kapsokwony will help Roy grow rugby-wise, so he pulls afew strings and in no time, Roy Nandwa is called to Menengai Highschool which is well known for Rugby.

While at Menengai Highschool, he gets a chance to train with Menengai Oilers, from Nakuru, something which impacts his rugby life and completely improves his understanding of the game and his abilities, he manages to play both at the nationals and at the East Africa school games during the four years that he is in Menengai.

During school holidays, he remained active, turning up for his team in Bungoma, and also continuing to link up with his former trainer.

After Highschool, the corona outbreak brought everything to a standstill, but the Young man stayed focussed, preferring to remain in Nakuru and train with the Menengai Oilers rugby club. This would later pay off this year when he was called up to the Kenya Under 20 team.

When he was brought on in the 63rd minute against Senegal, his trainer burst into song and dance, and then a week later the young man was also brought on in the 60th minute against Madagascar, much to the excitement of his trainer who recorded an audio of himself singing praises for the young man in the native Bukusu language.

It’s important to note, that when he got called up to the Under 20 national team, members of his home team commonly referred to as Wazalendo, held a fundraiser to help him obtain a passport.

He became the first Bungoma Wazalendo member, to win the Under 20 Barthes Cup and the third to have played for the Under 20 team, when they narrowly beat Madagascar in the final. For the young man the sky is the limit as he seeks to make it to the senior national team.