Unmasking Nyikuli, the indestructible force that wins Kenya Cup at will

Unmasking Nyikuli, the indestructible force that wins Kenya Cup at will

Though he sports a deceptively kind face that belie his brutal ferocity, the indestructible Brian William Nyikuli will probably go down in Kenya’s rugby history books as the player to have won the Kenya Cup titles more than three times and with three different clubs.

Born on January 5, 1985, the alma mater of Kakamega Boys High School made yet another milestone in his rugby career some seven weeks ago when he won his sixth Kenya Cup title through KCB RFC.

His fete with the bankers took his Kenya Cup titles to six and with three different clubs.

At 33, Nyikuli has been a common face within Kenyan rugby circles having captained both the Kenya Sevens national team and Kenya Simba since he graced the sport 19 years ago back in 2000.

In his long and decorated career, Nyikuli has featured for amongst others, Menengai Cream Homeboyz, Kenya Harlequins, Strathmore Leos, Impala Saracens and KCB.

Longevity 

But despite all the accolades and fame to his name, Nyikuli remains humble, focussed and disciplined begging the question: What’s the driving force behind his longevity and success?

“God has been gracious enough to give me an opportunity to play for that long. My family, teammates; both club and national level have also been a strong support system,”he said.

Nyikuli joined Impala Saracens from Strathmore Leos in 2015. Before that he had turned out for Kenya Harlequins from 2012- 2014 and was part of the unbeaten “golden side” that bagged the Kenya title without suffering defeat.

But, it seems, at Harlequins, he had fond memories as he rejoined the club in June 2017 after a short stint with Impala Saracens.

However, 2017 was not a good year for the soft-spoken forward as he was dropped from the Kenya Simba and stripped of the captaincy.

KCB RFC players celebrates with their trophy after being crowned the Prinsloo 7s champions at Nakuru Athletic Club in Nakuru on September 25, 2017. KCB RFC beat Top Fry Nakuru RFC 29-5 in the finals. Photo/Sportpicha.

In the same year in November, Nyikuli rejoined his current club KCB making an appearance against his former club Homeboyz on November 11 in the Floodies semifinals at the Impala club.

Luck

It seems luck was with him as he was part of the team that went on to snatch the Floodies title from Impala after a mouth-watering final staged at the Impala Club.

Beside his knack of winning titles, Nyikuli is probably one of the youngest players to have captained the Kenya 15s earning the arm band at just 24 years and 330 days.

“Rugby has been phenomenal in my growth,” he said. “For one to succeed in this game, patience and resilience is needed.”

His teammate and captain Curtis Lilako who first laid eyes on him while he was still an amateur said: “He (Nyikuli) was incomparable .He had the durability, consistency and mental strength.

“To play for four different clubs and win the Kenya Cup six times is something to be marvelled at, particularly with the physical demands of the position he plays in. Equally impressive is the quality of the performances he has produced, having been involved in the majority of those games. I can’t recall him ever having a bad game.”

Losing, it seems, is not in Nyikuli’s vocabulary and the burly forward has an uncanny habit of being at the right place at the right time, with success following him everywhere he goes.

“When I go to that playing ground I normally tell myself: ‘A loss is something I don’t really want to associate myself with’.”

Nyikuli however warns that one must be ready for any outcome given that rugby is a competitive game.

“I am so far proud with what I have been able to achieve,” Nyikuli added.

With twilight days beckoning, one would expect him to be seriously thinking of hanging up the rugby boots but he’s not about to call it quits just yet.

KCB RFC head coach Curtis Olago instructs his charges in their Enterprise Cup final clash against Kabras Sugar RFC at the RFUEA grounds in Nairobi, Kenya on June 18, 2016. KCB RFC won the match 24-12. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com
(FILE)KCB RFC head coach Curtis Olago instructs his charges in their Enterprise Cup final clash against Kabras Sugar RFC at the RFUEA grounds in Nairobi, Kenya on June 18, 2016.Nyikuli has great admiration of the tactician. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

“To be so close to action and being able to convey some advice and enthusiasm I had 10 years ago, and the atmosphere on the pitch is exciting .I want to be of the same calibre as Curtis Olago and Dennis Mwanja who I respect so much.

“This (coaching) is something I envy and when the right time comes for me to call it quits I will slowly transition to coaching,” Nyikuli said, lifting the lid on his retirement plans.

Always moustached and  bearded, the utility forward is eyeing a return to the national team and believes his strength in tackling, scrummaging, power and pace – will be instrumental in Kenya’s qualifications for the 2019  Rugby World  Cup in Japan.

Fact-box

Full Name: Brian William Nyikuli

DOB:  January 5, 1985

Age: 33 years

Playing Position: Flanker