Menengai Oilers were crowned Nationwide champions following a perfect debut season where they won all their matches to place Campionship clubs on alert Photo by Menengai Oilers
Nationwide champs Oilers put Championship clubs on alert
By Brian Msalame | Mon 15 May, 2017 15:59

There is a mini dynasty rising in the rift and Championship clubs will do well to take note as they wander into recess amid a delayed start of a competition involving the said teams.

Not since the emergence of Kabras in the 2013/14 season has a team from the lower tier threatened to rise so comfortably while amassing sumptuous records and deserved title coronations along the way. Kisii have found themselves in a similar position of progressive dominance and had their own share of success but it is an Oilers unit which is attempting to pit themselves against the very best within a minimal period of ascendancy that is the most compelling.

Menengai Oilers was formed through effective negotiations involving a proper rugby figure in Gibson Weru and able investors Menengai Oil Refineries Limited who saw the need to capitalize on the talent belt that is the rift by injecting resources to diversify the rugby playing population in the region.

Weru himself walked into the job after enhancing his coaching credentials by leading Top Fry Nakuru to a maiden series tittle in the 2015 sevens circuit only for him to embark on a new journey that began not so far away from where he was recently celebrated.

The entry of the Oilers into the competitive fifteens scene was marked by a successful Floodies campaign last year where they won the university category after being drafted in as first time invitees. That would lead to a subsequent use of several colourful adjectives along with the club's name as the Nationwide season unfolded all the way to its climax last weekend.

There's was an equally tougher task in a Rift Valley region which included a former Kenya Cup team Eldoret RFC, whom they rightfully saw off 32-11 during a league match to lay down an effective marker by stretching a then ten-match unbeaten run to maintain a comfortable gap at the top of the pile.

The resurgence continued throughout to the final where they whipped Egerton Wasps 47-10 to ascertain their grip as the region's pride while a home run throughout the inter-regional knockouts handed them close but deserved 20-3 and 8-0 wins over Maseno and Ngong in the quarter and semi finals respectively which ensured they would be promoted to take part in the Championship league when it enters its second season of existence.

Promotion was one thing but winning the final was another and also their most important test which they rightfully passed by enjoying a routine win over their fellow Championship inductees whom they tucked 17-8 to walk away with the Nationwide champions tag successfully capped by trouncing all opponents that came their way. 

The Championship itself may boast insufficient history to provide much insight into it but if the entry of Oilers has added an extra spice to its anticipation, the recent relegation of Mean Machine and Western Bulls from the Kenya Cup virtually means the now second tier league will also begin to receive equally adept following.

While those two may acquire the status of being termed hot favorites, Oilers will most realistically revel in being an equally feared team whose demolition of much inferior opponents continues to raise alarm to even the most superior among their level.

Varsity sides Catholic Monks and USIU were also consistent performers and near misses from the top prize will initiate a rigorous charge towards the title which will only trigger effective competition between these teams that already account for nearly half of the league's composition.

A spectacular fight for supremacy may develop and opponents drawn to face this team will be careful not to lose their footing against a fast rising side. This will allow them to keep playing like a normal team setting out to win and not under the pressure of wanting to extend an already impressive unbeaten run further forward.

Their coach himself admitted in his post-match statement after the final that winning the Championship may be ambitious but given the context of their debut season, it is looking increasingly worrying for any team to harbor their mission despite being the league's newcomers.

Brian Msalame
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