When the rainmakers are in town, you don’t miss an opportunity to talk to their Head Coach especially when the training session is at your doorstep. The Kenyacup.co.ke had a chat with Henley Du Plessis moments before they kicked off their Captain’s Run and here’s what Henley had to say about his stay in Kenya so far and Kabras’ journey in the 2018/2019 Kenya Cup season.
“I came here in the beginning of September to help in the implementation of new changes in the Kabras Rugby Club. We started off our training by getting our systems and planning in place for the 2018/2019 season since it is one of the areas that we need to work on. We have a lot of talented players but we need to make sure they are well managed so they can play to their full potential.
We had an eight-week preseason where we worked on our short comings as witnessed in the previous seasons. We’ve brought in a new attacking system and in so doing, we knew that we need to be fitter and stronger as compared to the other teams. Due to the intertwining of the Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup, we opted to stick to our training programs and two friendlies which have so far worked in our favour.
When the season took a Christmas break, I think we’re the only side that didn’t train at all in those three weeks because we knew that once we resumed on 12th January, it would be four to five months of full rugby action with no break at all. We started slowly in January but we’ve been improving as the season progresses. So far, it’s been a good ride, we know everyone has their eyes on us and they want to beat Kabras and for us it’s a challenge week after week. We don’t underestimate any team so we are taking every weekend as a final. The ultimate goal is to win the Kenya Cup title and it takes a lot of hard work to see this dream come to life. This is why we have a full time physio working with the players from Monday to Friday ensuring they are on the pitch. We also have one of the best Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the Country, Richard Ochieng’ who is putting in the work to ensure the players are fully fit.
Bringing in a new system is challenging because the type of players in Kenya are different from those in South Africa. It took some time for the Kabras players to adapt to the new system but luckily I have coachable players who are ready to learn and there is mutual respect from the coach to the players and vice versa. I strongly believe that if you do proper planning, everything will go your way. If as a Union we start working with the youngsters, it will make a lot of difference. In South Africa people start playing rugby at the age of six and seven years old while in Kenya, they start focusing on the game seriously between ages 14 to 17; that’s ten years behind. That’s always challenging for a coach. When we focus on developing the rugby here from the early age, Kenya’s performance will improve massively.
What’s inspiring so far in the season, is the level of commitment shown by the Kenyan players, rugby is really picking up and the skills of the players have improved. Our next month is an uphill battle but I think the boys are ready for it. They are very disciplined and that is a core value if a team is to be successful. We are very strict on the discipline.
Our challenge right now is to face Kenya Harlequins and I do hope that the best team at the end of the day wins. I am liking the challenge seen in the clubs so far, we’d like to make #KenyaCup one of the toughest leagues in Africa. Players getting opportunities to play Internationally is also very key in them growing themselves and influencing their local clubs’ performance.”
Kabras is top of the Kenya Cup table with a total of 40 points from the eight matches played this season. Their scorecard so far in the league:
WK 8: Kabras 46 – Mwamba 15 (H)
WK 7: Nondies 5 – Kabras 41 (A)
WK 6: Kabras 41 – Oilers 5 (H)
WK 5: Kabras 41 – Impala 10 (H)
WK 4: Strathmore 13 – Kabras 62 (A)
WK 3: Kabras 50 – Nakuru 8 (H)
WK 2: Blakblad 10 – Kabras 37 (A)
WK 1: Kabras Sugar RFC 41- Mean Machine 0 (H)
Kenya Harlequins host Kabras Sugar RFC at the RFUEA Grounds on 9th February.