Author: Michael Kwambo

Director of Communications U20 Barthés Trophy Nairobi

U20 Barthes Trophy: The Hopes of a Nation

By James Njenga “Biggie”

It is the hope of every young person to one day don the national team colors and represent their nation. I know this because not so long ago, I had the same dream. A 16-year-old me always dreamt of pulling that red and green jersey on, belting out the tunes of the national anthem with such great passion, like I see them do on tv, and just enjoying my rugby on the grand stage.

To actualize it, we attended Kenya U19 trials at the KCB grounds in Ruaraka immediately after high school. Most of us did not make it but the fact that we got to be around such an environment changed our mindset.

See, there is something about training and playing with and against the best players in the country. You do not get to be in and around such players if you are not cut from the same cloth. To make it to the team you have to beat the best and that just elevates your mentality to another level.

The following year, I made the Nakuru RFC team that won the Titans Cup against KCB. To make that Nakuru team you had to be no slouch. In the pecking order, I was behind Kenya Simbas Internationals in form of Isaiah Nyariki and Giles Littlewood.

The team was also littered with great talent, the likes of Martin Owilah, Mike Okombe, Edwins Makori, etc. I can confidently say that being around the Chipu environment made me want to be the best and compete with the best.

Fast forward to 2019 and I got to attend my very first Barthes Trophy tournament at the KCB Grounds, Ruaraka. Paul Odera was five years deep into the Kenya U20 gig and even though he had a torrid time trying to upset continental giants Namibia in previous editions of the competition, 2019 was special. Something was cooking.

Upon his appointment, Odera and his technical bench launched an ambitious plan. A plan to win the elusive continental trophy that for a long time had been at the behest of the Namibians and while at it, get Kenya back to the Junior World Trophy a decade after their last involvement in the competition. By the time Kenya was hosting this tournament, Odera, and his team had mastered the murky waters of continental competitions.

Step one — Early preparation. Kenya’s achilles heel in previous competitions had been poor or late preparation. Teams were assembled late giving the team little to no time to gel. To correct this, Odera named his training squad early and even had some time to play a couple of preparation games including one against KCB, the reigning Kenya Cup champions then.

The composition of the team was also one of the things that Odera paid special attention to. In order to win, Odera went for pedigree. Players who had been tested and proven to be competitors at the highest levels.

They selected a team that was hungry to win, hungry to defy the odds and prove themselves in front of the home crowd. A team that had experience playing in the Kenya Cup as well as other top competitions in the world.

Most of these players have gone ahead to play for the senior side, the Kenya Simbas. The likes of Samuel Asati, Beldad Ogeta, Dominic Coulson, Andrew Siminyu, Emmanuel Silungi, Geoffrey Okwatch, Andrew Matoka Matoka, Samuel Were, etc. have gone ahead to become household names.

Not that Odera and his boys had it any easier in their triumph that year even though the competition offered by Tunisia in their opening fixture was a little bit disappointing. Chipu thrashed the North Africans 73–0 to book a date with Namibia in the final. On their part, Namibia had to get past Senegal, a task they were well prepared for as they dispatched the West Africans 45–12.

A few players were not available for Kenya in the first game due to the usual issues. One of them was Michele Brighetti. A dynamic player that could slot in anywhere across the backs. We all (rightly so) praise Matoka Matoka for his heroics with that final penalty under pressure, but I also believe Brighetti deserves his flowers too. He brought stability to a back line that was a little shaky even in the complete mauling of Tunisia.

Tries by Brian Amaitsa, Beldad Ogeta, and Bonface Ochieng’ coupled with two penalties by Matoka Matoka were enough, just barely, to see Kenya win the elusive continental title and go ahead to represent Kenya at the Junior World Trophy. Nothing can adequately describe the mood at the Den after Precious Pazani blew the final whistle. Nothing!

The importance of that win for Kenya cannot be overstated. The team went ahead to give a good account of themselves at the Junior World Trophy in Brazil just barely losing 48–34 to highly fancied Japan. (Kenya’s Tries: Geofrey Okwach 2, Ian Masheti, Ibrahiim Ayoo, and Timothy Omela; Conversions: Dominic Coulson 3; Penalty: Dominic Coulson.)

Last year, Kenya Simbas had a Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign, first through the African qualifiers and then through the repechage tournament. Most of those players selected had passed through the Barthes Trophy. In fact, seven out of the 31 players named for the Rugby World Cup repechage tournament were members of the 2019 team. These are Andrew Peter Siminyu, Samuel Asati, Timothy Omela, John Okoth, Geoffrey Okwach, Beldad Ogeta, and Ian Masheti.

It is 2023 and Kenya will be hosting the tournament, again. We are about to witness another emergence of close to 30 young and talented players. When utilized fully, there is no limit as to where these kids we get from the tournament can take us. Their potential is limitless. How immaculate could it be if the team that will take us to Australia 2027 would be made up of a bulk of players that have taken part in this tournament?

This is a tournament that represents hope. Hope for a nation that eats, sleeps, and bleeds rugby.

James Njenga “Biggier” is a former Nakuru RFC forward

Champions Zimbabwe name provisional squad for Barthes defense

Defending champions Zimbabwe have named a 36 man provisional squad for their title defense at this year’s Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy in Nairobi from 22-30 April 2023.

The squad has eight returning players from last year’s successful team namely Bryan Chiang, Tanaka Gondomukandapi, Takunda Mudzingwa,Panashe Zuze Brendan Marume, Tanaka Chinyaga, Alex Nyamunda and Dion Khumalo.

The final squad of 28 will be named closer to the tournament.

Zimbabwe won last year’s title with a 19-14 victory over Namibia in an exciting final at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.

Zimbabwe Provisional Squad: Happias Zhou, Jerry Zisengwe, Gealan Jaricja, Bryan Chiang, Tawananyasha Bwanya, Leo Mutendi, Mazuva Gutu, Tadiwa Chinwada, Nqobile Manyara, Stanley Muraganwa, Tanaka Gondomukandapi, Huntley Masterson, Allan Mawunga, Vincent Chimwendo, Tanaka Ndoro, Halgar Muchenje, Shingirai Manyara, Tadiwanashe Marumisa, Takunda Mudzingwa, Kelvin Kaseke, Godfrey Zvinavashe, Panashe Zuze, Brendan Marume, Tanaka Chinyaga, Edward Sigauke, Kelton Kaseke, Shadreck Mandaza, Alex Nyamunda, Simbarashe Kanyangarara, Brendan Johnson, Kudakwashe Nyamushaya, Benoni Nhekairo, Dion Khumalo, Taonaishe Mapani, Panashe Mugorogodi, Tadiwanashe Unganani


Namibia reveal Barthes Trophy squad

Namibia have declared their squad to the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy taking place in Nairobi from 22-30 April 2023.

The former champions have two returning players from last season’s side that lost to Zimbabwe in the final as Ray –Eez Ferris and Owen Hawanga make the travelling party.

Namibia will be out to reclaim the title that they lost to Kenya in 2019 in Nairobi.

Namibia U20 Barthes Trophy Squad: Fillipus Tshuuya, Johan Brockman, Herman Coetzee, Lodewickus Karsten, Dandre Schreuder, Edward Drotsky, Hendrik de Beer, Theo Lintvelt, Nguvitja Tjaronda, Matthew Quinn, Michael Atkinson, Ray-Eez Ferris, Joe Corne Losper, Ferion Beukes, Salomo Martiz, Kisting Minyoi, Enrique Husselman, Dillion Kahmann, Armand Kotze, Ethan Koopman, Louis Steenkamp, Natie Janse van Rensburg, Owen Hawanga, Keanan Januarie, William Klazen, Manfred Garoeb, Nicolas Tromp, Divan Steyn  NON TRAVELLING RESERVES: Johaness Husselman, Richter Steenkamp, Jayden Van Zyl, Otja Auala, Johandre Dege, Breyton Beukes, Lucihano Gaingob, Damian Van Den Ross, Ethan Williams, Dhaamin Bassardien

Kenya continue with Barthes preps

A 39 man Kenya U20 squad has been in non-residential training for the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy set for 22-30 April 2023 in Nairobi.

The squad, under the tutelage of Curtis Olago has seven returning players from the side that finished third in last year’s tournament in Nairobi including David Mwangi, Mathias Osimbo, Felix Masega Chacha, Stanslous Shikoli, Laban Kipsang, George Otieno and Makaya Brian.  Another two players, Zephenes Obwanga and Iddo Kuta were part of the 2022 training squad.

Team Manager Peter Mutai said, “Training has been going on well. We are however monitoring the progress of Mathias Osimbo who is carrying an injury sustained during his side’s Kenya Cup fixture a few weeks ago. We will make a decision in the coming days.”

The final squad will be announced closer to the tournament.

Chipu Training Squad:

FORWARDS: Raymond Chacha (Strathmore Leos), Dennis Kisingu (Strathmore Leos), Makaya Brian (Mean Machine), Collins Ndambo (Daystar Falcons), George Otieno (Shamas), Mike Oduor (Daystar Falcons),Mark Lubira (USIU Martials), Jeremy Odhiambo (Catholic Monks), Gaylord Mgasi (Daystar Falcons), Ogutu Wycliffe (Daystar Falcons), Michael Jayson (Impala Saracens), John Asega (South Coast Pirates), Ahona Victor (Blak Blad), Andy Cole Omolo (Masinde Muliro), Eugene Etale (Unattached), Eugene Obat (Strathmore Leos), Nathan Tsindoli (Daystar Falcons), Laban Kipsang (Kenya Harlequin), Edmond Omondi ( Masinde Muliro), Jackton Omondi (Kabras Sugar), James Asanga (Menengai Oilers), Iddo Kuta (Kenya Harlequin), Stanslaus Shikoli (Strathmore Leos), Vincent Omondi (Kenya Harlequin), William Otondi (Binghamton University, USA)

BACKS: Patrick Wainaina (Kenya Harlequin), Zephenes Obwanga (Catholic Monks), David Nyanginge (Northern Suburbs),Brian Mwenda (Strathmore Leos),  Collins Munyasa (Impala Saracens), Eddy Wambugu (Daystar Falcons), Mike Wamalwa (Catholic Monks), Felix Masega Chacha (Mwamba), Mathias Osimbo (Kabras Sugar), David Mwangi (Kenya Harlequin), Victor Mola (Strathmore Leos), Kerry Otieno (Mwamba), Raphael Wanga (Zetech Oaks), George Omondi (Catholic Monks)

Four changes for Kenya ahead of clash with Madagascar

Barthes action returns to Nairobi

The Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy returns to Nairobi for a fourth time this April after previous editions in 2019,2021 & 2022.

The tournament, which serves as the Africa U20 Championship will be played from 22nd to 30th April at the Nyayo National Stadium and brings together eight of Africa’s leading U20 sides battling it out for the overall title and a ticket to this year’s World Rugby Junior Trophy which also takes place in Nairobi in July this year.

Leading the charge in Nairobi are defending champions Zimbabwe, last year’s beaten finalists Namibia, hosts Kenya and Madagascar.

Other teams that will be in Nairobi are Uganda, Zambia, Tunisia and the Ivory Coast.

The tournament will be played on a knockout basis with over three match days

Quartefinals 22nd April

Semifinals 26th April

Finals 30th April

*Match schedules and ticketing information will be released in subsequent communications.

It’s a Namibia – Zimbabwe final

Namibia ended Kenya’s reign as defending champions with a 16-5 victory in the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy tournament at the Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday 13 April 2022.

The Namibians took a 6-0 lead into the interval courtesy of two penalties from skipper Oela Blaauw in a half that saw Chipu waste several opportunities to get points on the board, Tonny Oketch missing three kickable penalties. The Kenyan forwards, despite their dominance, were also not efficient in the final third, twice fumbling on the Namibian try line, a script that would be followed throughout the game.

Blaauw then converted Niel Holtzhausen’s try to put Namibia 16-0 up after the break.

Kenya’s incessant pressure failed to bear fruit, this despite having Namibia on the back foot for the better part of the second half, spurred on by the inclusion of second half replacements George Otieno, Anderson Oduor, John Aswani and Joseph Ayiro.

Ayiro would score a late try, played in by David Mwangi but his efforts proved to be too little, too late as their reign as champions came to an end.

Namibia will face Zimbabwe in Sunday’s final. Zimbabwe made it to the final with a 32-3 victory over Madagascar.

Elson Gabriel put the Malagasy ahead with an early penalty before Zimbabwe responded with Brendan Marume’s 12 point haul coming off 4 penalties, Tanaka Gondomukandapi’s brace of tries complimented by tries from captain Takudzwa Musingwini and Tamuka Kambani.

Declared Squads for Match Day 2

Squads have been declared for match day 2 action at the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy on Wednesday 13 April 2022 at the Nyayo National Stadium.

The action kicks off at 9.00am EAT with Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda meeting in the 5th place semifinal, paving way for the second 5th place semifinal between Tunisia and Zambia.

Hosts and defending champions Kenya will then take on Namibia in the first semifinal at 2.00pm before last year’s runners up, Madagascar take on Zimbabwe in the second semifinal at 4.30pm.

Cote d’ Ivoire v Uganda | 9.00am | 5th place semifinal

Koutoun Ange Boyo1Alexander Byaruhanga
Wally Toungara2Herbert Champara
Brouhana Dianda3Alvin Rukundo
Ibrahim Traore4Brian Wandera
Jonathan Dongo5Joshua Adebua
Mamadou Konate6Charles Mwadeghu
Issoufou Diallo7Kevin Ampaire
Coulibally Agnib8Jeremy Biyinzika
Abdoulaziz Ouatarra9Alvin Mwebaze
Abdoul Karembiri10Daniel Okello ( C)
Oumarou Sigue11Joseph Mwesigwa
Liuson Valentin N’zoko ( c )12Yasin Waswa
Oumar Kante13Emma Ochan
Marcel Dadi Odre14Steven Kalema
Ismael Nacanado15Michael Kalyango
Yao Mammadou Ouatarra16Edward Emiemu
Madany Traore17Joel Nkonte
Moussa Traore18Emmanuel Kiyaga
Bilaly Samake19David Bajjanaseko
Ilyass Konate20Blaise Ochieng
Kouadio Koucaou21Hashim Kabogoza
Alpha Soumahoro22Hossana Opileni
Ahmed Gramoute23Edrine Lemeriga

Tunisia v Zambia | 11.30am | 5th place semifinal

Hossem Ktata1Sekou Ibrahim
Mohammed Azozi2Lukundo Silwamba
Amine Baya3Dimus Kabengele
Oussama Baya4Daniel Habasimbi
Mohammed Khardani5Charles Mwemba
Mohammed Bel Hadj Youssef6Cassidy Chate
Mohamed Salah Ben Rjeb7Fredrick Musonda
Bahaeddine Abid8Miracle Simpasa
Mohammed Ali Jlassi9Kelvin Sichula
Mohammed Riahi10Mwila Mulenga
Aymen Hamdaoui11Fred Mtonga
Malek el Mahdi ( c )12Chileshe Mulenga ( c )
Adel Bahri13Swaba Chalelwa
Ilyes Ayari14Paul Zulu
Adem Grami15Redson Lukwesa
Bayrem Ben Ticha16Richard Kabengele
Mohaimen Rouached17Hanshel Chibale
Mohamed Znati18Nkhuka Mpande
Houssem Ben Yahya19Peter Mwansa
Nouredinne Dahmoul20Evans Fumbelo
Ahmed Salmi21Mwale Mulenga
Ahmed Mrabti22Shibunga Chatioka
Ahmed Houssem23Riaan Nsokoshi

Kenya v Namibia | 2.00pm | Semifinal

Nicholas Okullo1Jano Otto
Idd Ganguma2Friedrich Grobbelaar
Whilhite Musisi3Filippus Tshuuya
Elvis Persian4Conhill Dragohoendler
Stanslaus Shikoli5Gregory Namaseb
Gabriel Ayimba6Ray Feris
Tyson Maina7Alexander Jansen
John Baraka ( c)8Riaan Grove
Emmanuel Opondo9Oela Blaauw
Samuel Mwaura10Raschano Van Rooi
Roy Mulievi11Owen Hawanga
Felix Chacha12Patrick Karsten
Mathias Osimbo13Niel Holtzhausen
David Mwangi14Jonathan Hanekom
Tonny Oketch15Geraldo Beukes
George Otieno16Franko Pearson
Randy Wamah17Bernd Beddies
Brian Makaya18Feliciano Lauha
John Aswani19Henri Rossouw
Laban Kipsang20Darren Beukes
Winston Macharia21Brian Bayer
Anderson Oduor22Adriaan Steenkamp
Joseph Ayiro23Quirione Majiedt

Madagascar v Zimbabwe | 4.30pm | Semifinal

Tahiana  Raharisamimanana1Veshal Jasi
Bienevue Rakotosalama2Marlon Guwuriro
Joeli Rakotoniaina3Tomuvoga Msasanure
Gervais Rakotonirina4Tamuka Kambani
Fano Rakotonandrasana5Simbarashe Siraha
Alain Rakotovao6Tanaka Ndoro
Fosy Rakotoniaina7Denzel Maramba
Rojosoa Randriamanantena ( c )8Tanaka Gondomukandapi
Fiononana Rolland Rakotoson9Shadrick Mandaza
Hery Njaka Rasolofoniaina10Bredan Marume
Tsiaroniaina Michel Rakotoarijaona11Tanaka Ndabambi
Rojonirina Rakotondrazaza12Alex Nyamunda
Fidisoa Razanaparany13Tawanda Matipano
Flosi Rakotoniaina14Josiah Borerwe
Elson Gabriel15Simbarashe Kanyangara
Laja Andriamasinjanahary16Brian Chiang
Herve Rasoarantonirina17Tadiwa Chinwada
Tongasoa Razafindrahaja18Farai Madzima
Todisoa Randriamasinavalona19Muzuma Gutu
Safidi Anjarasoa Andriamihaja20Tavonga Ablant
Philibert Sederick Romaroson21Dion Khumalo
Guy Ernest Henry Randranaivo22Takudzwa Musingwini ( C )
Zacharie Alain Jose Tojoniaina23Tendai Chimyama

Venue: Nyayo National Stadium

Tickets: Ksh 300 (regular), Ksh 1000 (VIP) – available on

How to watch: K24plus and Rugby Africa Facebook page

Semifinal pairings confirmed

The semifinal pairings for the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy are now known following completion of the quarterfinals on Saturday 9 April 2022.

Hosts and defending champions Kenya will take on former champions Namibia in the first semifinal, paving way for the second clash between Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

Action between Kenya and Uganda

These matches will be preceded by classification matches pitting Ivory Coast against Tunisia and Zambia against Uganda.

Match Day 1 Results, Saturday 9 April 2022

Namibia 62 Ivory Coast 0

Tunisia 18 Zimbabwe 19

Madagascar 26 Zambia 14

Kenya 54 Uganda 20

Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy Match Day 2, Wednesday 13 April 2022

9.00am Classification Match: Ivory Coast v Uganda

11.30am Classification Match: Zambia v Tunisia

2.00pm Semifinal: Kenya v Namibia

4.30pm Semifinal: Madagascar v Zimbabwe

Venue: Nyayo National Stadium

Tickets: Ksh 300 (regular), Ksh 1000 (VIP) – available on

How to watch: K24plus and Rugby Africa Facebook page

Namibia targeting glory in Nairobi

NAMIBIA are targeting honours when they compete at the upcoming 2022 Rugby Africa Barthés U20 Trophy in Nairobi, Kenya.

Head coach Chrysander Botha named his travelling team yesterday.

The tournament is a welcome distraction for the youngsters who missed out on the action altogether last year after several members of the team tested positive for Covid-19. The year before that Namibia fell 21-18 to Kenya in the final.

They will be looking to reclaim the title and underline their pedigree on the continent between 9 and 17 April.

“We’re going to Kenya to play our hearts out. The past few weeks were a bit difficult for us to get each other and bond as a team to prepare for the tour. But I believe we will do well,” captain Rowan Jansen said.

Only three teams participated last year due to Covid-19 interruptions, with Kenya edging Madagascar 21-20 to retain the trophy.

This year, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have all confirmed they will be vying for the title.

“This is a platform for our boys to go out there and just do well. I don’t think any team prepares just to go and participate; we’re going over there to win this tournament,” Botha said.

“Yes, we did lose in the previous tournament, but that just goes to show that development of rugby in Africa is happening at the moment,” he said of their rivals rapid improvement.

“We need to strategically plan how we’re going to move forward because the rest of Africa is catching up to us, especially the likes of Kenya and Zimbabwe.

“We need to invest all our time and energy in the development of our players. Not just u20, but at the grassroots level as well.”

Namibia face the fast-improving Ivory Coast on 9 April in their first match. Their next opponent will be confirmed after the opening day’s results.

That fixture will be played on 13 April after which the final will be contested on 17 April when the ranking for u20 will be determined.

“It’s a difficult route as we face Ivory Coast, then possibly Kenya and then Zimbabwe in the final. But, if you want to be the best then you have to beat the best, as they say. We’re planning on going all out and we’re going there to represent Namibia and do everyone proud,” Botha said.

Namibia Squad: Leonardo Bayer, Bernd Beddies, Geraldo Beukes, Darren Beukes, Oela Blaauw, Conwille Draghoender, Ray-Eez Feris, Frederich Grobbelaar, Riaan Grove, Owen Hawanga, Niel Holtzhausen, Rowan Jansen, Alexander Jansen, Patrick Karsten, Quirine Majiedt, Lucky Mauha, Upahee Muhuura, Gregory Namaseb, Jan Otto, Franco Pearson, Henri Rossouw, Iyambo Tshuuya, Rashano van Rooi and Janes van Zyl.

Technical team: Chrysander Botha (coach), Jacobus Husselmann (team manager), Wilfred Nico Bezuidehoudt (team doctor).

-The Namibian

U20 Barthes Trophy ticket sales commence

Ticket sales for the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy are now open.

The tournament takes place from 9th to 17th April 2022 at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.

Regular tickets will cost Ksh 300 with VIP tickets retailing at Ksh 1000 per match day.

Tickets are available on 

Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy Fixtures

MATCH DAY 1, Saturday 9 April 2022

QF1 9.00am Namibia v Cote d’Ivoire

QF2 11.30am Tunisia v Zimbabwe

QF3 2.00pm Madagascar v Zambia

QF4 4.30pm Kenya v Uganda

MATCH DAY 2, Wednesday 13 April 2022

CM1 9.00am Loser QF1 v Loser QF2

CM2 11.30am Loser QF3 v Loser QF4

SF1 2.00pm Winner QF1 v Winner QF4

SF2 4.30pm Winner QF2 v Winner QF3

MATCH DAY 3, Sunday 17 April 2022

PO1 9.00am Loser CM1 v Loser CM2

PO2 11.30am Winner CM1 v Winner CM2

Bronze Medal Match: 2.00pm Loser SF1 v Loser SF2

Final: 4.30pm Winner SF1 v Winner SF2