Rugby League originated in 1895 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, following a split from the Rugby Football Union over the issue of payments to players. Despite its inception in England, the sport has gained attraction in various countries in Africa, including Kenya. It took several decades for Rugby League to be embraced in Kenya, and individuals played a crucial part in its introduction to the country.
One notable figure in the introduction of Rugby League to Kenya is a Nairobi School alumni, who was the first Kenyan rugby player to land a professional contract abroad in the early 1990s. Upon his return, he attempted to introduce Rugby League in Kenya. He partnered with a Nairobi-based businessman to create awareness about the sport, establish coaching sessions and clubs, and even set up a website.
Their efforts initially faced challenges, with teams collapsing without playing a single game. However, they persisted and initiated programs targeting youths from underprivileged backgrounds, eventually sparking an interest in Rugby League among many Kenyans. This led to the formation of a national federation and league, selection of star players for international events, and significant achievements such as defeating a European side in a game and winning a bronze medal at an international tournament.
In Kenya, rugby league comprises both men’s and women’s leagues, with teams like the Centurion, AP Warriors, Sharks, Wolves, Ruffians, and others participating in the men’s league. The women’s league includes teams like Sharks and AP Warriors competing across the country. Rugby League employs a specific scoring system where a try is worth 4 points, field goals or drop goals can be attempted for a single point, and a successful try leads to a free kick for a conversion worth a further two points.
Penalty kicks at goal, known simply as penalties, are also worth two points and are taken from the ground. The rules also limit direct challenges to the kicker by the opposing team.