In the month of September 2018 the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) released a 44-man squad as the pool from where Kenya 7s players will be picked from for the upcoming 2018/9 season.
In the provisional list was an 'unknown' William Reeve (pictured in red with ball) - to the Kenyan rugby followers that is. Though named as a player based in South Africa, the truth is; William Reeve resides in Nanyuki serving as a British Army Officer, working for BATUK. He is a Captain by rank in The Royal Gurkha Rifles, an Infantry Regiment.
Those that watched Christie Sevens in mid-September may have caught a glimpse of the gentleman as he turned out for BATUK in the tier 2 competition held at the Impala grounds. BATUK made it to the Spear final.
He has grand ambitions - to feature for Kenya 7s in the 2020 Olympics, and for Kenya Simbas in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
He has the perfect frame for a forward in the Sevens game, and speed that makes him a full back in 15s, as well as the nippiness that switches him to a half back.
Exactly who is William Reeve, husband to Kaitlin, and what can he bring to Kenyan rugby be it in the 7s or 15s fold?
In an exclusive interview with Raga House he tells us his story;
"I come from Wales, where I learnt my trade as a rugby player. My Kenyan connection reaches back to my grandparents - they arrived separately, met, married and had my father and his younger brother in Nairobi,"
"I started playing rugby for my local town, Mold RFC, as a youngster. Also as a boy I played for my school and college. From the age of 18 I played for Loughborough University as well as The British Army U20s and U23s,"
"Since graduating University I have played for a number of civilian clubs as well as the Army Senior XV and VII. Having played in key decision making roles I feel I can add some stability to a team’s game plan. Also, I pride myself on my high levels of fitness and work rate. That is what I’ll bring to Kenyan Rugby,"
"I have shown interest in playing for both the Simbas and the Shujaa. I’ve trained with the XVs and have sent them my footage; I’m just waiting for the phone to ring. I really enjoy playing the 7 aside game and have had success with The British Army team. It is therefore natural for me to continue to play 7s in Kenya. I play as a Fullback in XVs, although have a lot of experience at Flyhalf. I play as a hooker on the 7s field but again have experience as a first receiver,"
"My aim is to represent Kenya at Tokyo 2020 - to be an Olympian is every sportman’s dream. I know the HSBC Series has a huge part to play in achieving that goal, so of course I’m focused on that, however my first goal is playing well at Safari 7s to secure myself a place in the squad. Should the Simbas ask, then of course I’ll be aiming at performing well at The Repechage and ultimately gaining a place at RWC2019.
With the game full of time demands, how will Reeve juggle between the field and work?
"Should I be selected to represent either the Simbas or the Shujaa, I will have to strike a balance with rugby and work. However this is nothing I haven’t done before. I have a very understanding chain of command who are willing to support me in this venture, and I am prepared to put in the extra effort to make up for time away. Should I become a prospective Olympian, there is an Elite Sportsman programme that The British Army maintain which would allow me complete freedom to train away from work,"
How much of the game in Kenya is he familiar with? Any weaknesses that he has noted in the Kenyan game - and how to fix it?
"We all know Kenya for its 7s and their win in Singapore 2 years ago; their game is built on hardwork, athleticism and desire. These are the qualities that I also found rang true when I trained with the Simbas - they were such a tight nit group striving toward a single goal,"
"If I was to improve one area for the 7s, it would be the kick off. With the Army 7s we enjoyed a high percentage of possession as we were able to secure opposition kick offs and regain our own,"
"If I was to improve one thing for the Simbas it would be their counter attack - during a short training weekend with them in July, we worked on just that, and my experience as a Fullback and confidence as a communicator is something I feel can benefit the team,"
His pick as a stand-out player in the Kenya setup?
"I’d have to choose Jacob ‘OJ’ (Ojee of KCB) - he has excellent balance, footwork and is a naturally physical, attacking player. As a Fullback, he’s the kind of winger I’d like to line up alongside."
While in Nanyuki is he involved in any rugby activities?
"There is little rugby to be had in Nanyuki, but I’ve done what I can. I help the Nanyuki Jackals when possible, and I play for and coach our BATUK work team."
Any children? No, he says "We have a German Shepherd,"
His parting shot? "I hope one day that Adidas sponsor me!"