Kenya Rugby is in the process of becoming a professional sport although there is still a long way to go.
We did a research on how rugby players are paid and what they actually get. Here we focus on national teams Kenya Sevens, Kenya Simbas, Kenya Lionesses (Women’s Sevens side), Kenya Under 20 and the clubs.
Rugby players in Kenya are not paid as well as their counterparts in other nations. Improving their payment schemes can go far in improving the standards of the game.
This is one of the highest paid national team not only in rugby but across a number of team sports in Kenya. The Kenya 7s players are paid by the number of caps/tournaments one has played. The more matches you’ve played the richer you get.
As of 2016/2017 HSBC World Sevens Series, those who have played 0-15 tournaments earned Ksh100,000 per month before 35% tax. These are first time players.
A tournament is one leg in the World Sevens series e.g. Dubai 7s or Las Vegas 7s. A full season has 10 tournaments.
15-29 caps get Ksh115,000 per month. These are players who have been there for close to two seasons and above.
30-44 caps take home Ksh140,000 per month before tax. These are players who have been on the team for a long time.
Group A features those who have played 45 tournaments and above in the World Sevens Series and above. These ones earn Ksh165,000.
Part-time players who are not on contract earn Ksh50,000 per month but drops to Ksh35,000 after tax.
Apart from the monthly salary, Kenya 7s players get Ksh8,000 as travel allowance in every outing. (Dubai and Cape Town 7s is an example of an outing).
For any cup win, like Singapore 7s, the Sevens players are assured of USD6,000 (Ksh600,000), finishing second they get USD3,000 (Ksh300,000), USD1500 (KSh150,000) for a cup semis place finish and USD1000 (Ksh100,000) for a fifth-place finish - formerly known as Plate win.
In a good month, if Kenya finishes fifth in any of the ten tournaments, a 15-cap player will take home Ksh266,000 after adding travelling allowance and monthly salary.
The Sevens players are only contracted between November 1 and May 30 when they are in season.
The national 15s team also known as Kenya Simbas (#SimbaNiMoja) is only in action during the June and November internationals. They are paid per training session and on match days. They are yet to receive Kenya Sevens-like contracts.
Each training session for Kenya Simbas is paid Ksh2,000 with a week likely to have up to six sessions which makes it Ksh12,000.
For any match played, the Simbas players earn Ksh10,000. Ksh10,000 will be added if they get a win. Captain of the days earns more than the players.
In 2017, Kenya Simbas played 12 matches. No player has featured in all the matches.
Going out on tour the players will be paid USD150 (Ksh 15,000).
In 2017, they travelled to South Africa for a 10-day camp, went to Uganda for the Elgon Cup, visited Zimbabwe and Namibia for Africa Gold Cup and were in Hong Kong for the Four Nations.
Bonuses from Sportpesa ranges from USD100 to USD1,000 depending on the opponent taken down, and magnitude of the win.
The national women’s sevens side is rarely in action as they only take part in Africa 7s, Dubai 7s and additional tournaments like Commonwealth games and invitational tournaments.
These girls earn Ksh1,000 per training session. There are up to three sessions per week. For every tournament they go to like the just concluded Africa 7s in Tunisia, they earn Ksh15,000.
Kenya Under 20
This is the junior team popularly known as Chipu. They only play three matches per year, the Africa Cup.
If available, a match allowance in the Kenya Under 20 team is Ksh10,000 for the entire tournament while a training session is Ksh500. Training sessions may be three per week.
Now sponsored by betting firm Sportpesa as well as other sponsors, Quins are said to be having the best training allowance scheme.
A reliable source told us that Quins players have a monthly retainer, match allowance, win allowance, allowance for a win with bonus while some players get an extra monthly allowance for special needs.
Quins also pay housing for those in need and education too and the entire technical bench is on a monthly stipend.
Impala are sponsored by Resolution Insurance and have a partnership with UK based Saracens Rugby Club. They are part of the global Saracens clubs.
All the players (senior squad, ESS and junior team) have a medical cover.
For every win at Impala Saracens, every player will earn Ksh3500. Training allowance per day is Ksh250 which amounts to Ksh1000 every week or the number of sessions one attends.
One of the club’s officials confirmed that the amount the players receive per month ranges between Khs16,000 and 20,000 per month.
The Kenya Cup champions advocate for an average pay across all players as an official from the club told us. There is a training allowance for every session attended. KCB has four training sessions per week.
For a month, team one players get Ksh25,000 on average if when on national duty.
If they win a tournament or the league, they also get something. KCB CEO Joshua Oigara awarded them with Ksh5 million when they won the 2017 Kenya Cup.
This is a team from Strathmore University. They do not provide any allowance or payment but offer scholarships to students-players.
“Being a university team we are an amateur side thus we do not offer financial rewards for players but we offer other benefits. A comprehensive medical cover is one of the benefits”, said Strathmore´s Director of Sports Sylvia Kamau.
The 2016 Kenya Cup champions are one of the top-paying clubs in the Kenya Cup. They have invested heavily in the last four years to bring players from Uganda and as far as Fiji.
Kabras Sugar, however, offers full-time jobs where players work in the Sugar company during the day and play in the evening.
They have no daily allowances since players are paid on a monthly basis.
Menengai Cream Homeboyz
Homeboyz, sponsored by Menengai Cream, pays their players per match and training allowances. They are the fastest-growing club in Kenya and are thus able to attract top quality players.
Homeboyz also offers jobs to qualified players as well as paying school fees to a number of players who are still in school.
The oldest club in Kenya, who were the first team in Kenya to have a physiotherapist, has training allowances paid to players after a month or any agreed plan between management and players.
Match allowance depends on the opponent they defeat and is paid in tiers. There are four tiers.
In tier one, if they beat a top side who reached Kenya Cup final (KCB and Kabras) they earn Ksh6,000.
Tier two includes defeating teams that reached Kenya Cup quarters (Homeboyz, Quins, Impala and Mwamba) where they take home Ksh4,000.
Tier three is for beating mid-table teams, those that finished seventh, eighth and ninth (Nakuru RFC and Strathmore). Beating these, the Nondies players get Ksh2000.
The last allowance tier (Ksh1000) features teams that finished between 10, 11 and 12th in the last Kenya Cup season. These teams include Blak Blad, Western Bulls and Mean Machine). With Bulls and Machine going to division II, Kisii RFC and Mombasa will take their slots.
The former Kenya Cup champions are sponsored by Top Fry and recently acquired Mitch Ochola as their new head coach from Strathmore Leos.
A win at Nakuru RFC popularly known as Wanyore will earn you an allowance while a win without a bonus still has an allowance. Nakuru RFC also pays training allowances on daily basis.
We understand with the help of Menengai, Nakuru RFC will be offering scholarships from 2018.
The University of Nairobi side recently got relegated from top-flight rugby but they are known for offering a bit better scheme of allowance.
Players are given Ksh4100 every outing they do outside Nairobi with matches around the city said to be bringing Ksh400.
This cash comes out before the students leave the school for matches.
Our research shows Blad, a team from Kenyatta University, is one of the lowest earning teams in the top flight rugby. Their priority remains education just like Strathmore University. For Nairobi based games the players get Ks350.
Formed in 2016, the Nakuru based side is probably one of the best paying teams in the Championship, second-tier league.
Oilers are backed by Menengai Refineries and pay Ksh1200 per week for those who make the team. If a player trains but fails to make the match day, they take home Ksh800 every week.
The minimum a player will get at Menengai Oilers per month is Ksh8800.
Rugby has three pillars; Playing, Coaching and officiating. Referees play a key role in any Union across the World. If one pillar falls, the other two won't work.
The Kenya Rugby Referees under their society have a payment plan per match in the Kenya Cup and some of them get to officiate the Rugby Afrique matches and World Rugby competitions.
Most of Kenya Rugby referees have another job or doing something else.
Officiating a Kenya Cup match, a referee is paid Ksh1500 as well as the two assistant referees.
During the sevens circuit like Kabeberi 7s, the refs get Ksh4000 per weekend with extra facilitation fee as per the region one comes from. Those coming from Nairobi and its environs get an extra KSh1000 while those from Nakuru and other parts get an extra Ksh1700.
The Kenya Cup referees take charge of competitions like Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) Sevens and 15s. The national games run for around one week where the refs take home between Ksh28,000 and 30,000.
Officiating Prescott Cup, Damu Pevu and Damu Changa bring in Ksh1000 per match with the Union paying for facilitation fee.
During the Safari 7s, the refs are paid Ksh5000 per day which amounts to Ksh15,000 for the entire weekend with the assistants taking home Ksh3000 per day.
Continental duties, Africa 7s and Africa Gold Cup, are paid by the administrator, Rugby Afrique who pay 90 Euros (Ksh10, 000).
The Kenya Rugby Union defines a Contracted Player as one who receives material benefits in form of allowances, education fees, housing, monthly stipend etc. exceeding Ksh 3,750 per week or Ksh 15,000 per month.
Looking at other unions across the globe, New Zealand has seven full-time referees, but with provincial match fees ranging from around KSh20, 000 for Heartland games through to KSH50, 000 for Mitre 10 Cup, everyone outside that elite bracket juggles another job.
Super Rugby whistlers are full-time, receiving six-figure salaries and a car. With test match payments factored in pay packets can edge towards Ksh20, 600, 000 in some cases.
Professional rugby players in England are among the highest compensated in the world. During the 2010 to 2011 season, the players in the Aviva Premiership -- England's top rugby league -- earned an average of 85,000 pounds sterling -- approximately KShs 13 Million.
The top professional rugby players in France receive the highest salaries in the world. Dan Carter topped this list as the highest paid rugby player in the world with a salary of US Dollars $1.84 Million in 2011.
In general, rugby professional rugby players outside of the top-paying leagues like Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe earn much less. Professional rugby only exists in several dozen countries in the world and employment opportunities are limited.