Rugby Union is a game with very distinct characteristics. Not least among these is that of the alakadoos*, who remain fanatical supporters of their clubs and unions long after they hang up their boots. Such Patrons have been around since the very beginning of the game in East Africa in the 1900s. In a formal sense, “The Rugby Patrons” started way back in 1953 with the formation of the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (“RFUEA”). The Patrons of the day contributed funds to enable the building of the Ngong Road Ground. Their contribution was recognized in the RUFEA Constitution that dealt specifically with Patrons, and reserved for them seats in the new stand.
Such privileges are a thing of the past, but the concept of the “Patron” envisaged in the original constitution of RFUEA lives on. By 1988, Tony Parfitt (who had been closely associated with Rugby in this country for many, many years) together with fellow patrons facilitated the advent of today’s Rugby Patrons Society separate from, but supportive of, the RFUEA, the KRFU and the clubs.
The objectives are unchanging: to create and maintain a body of like-minded persons interested in the promotion of the game. Members are those invited to be Patrons and who can be relied upon for active support and assistance when required. They share a deep rooted affection for the game and its development in Kenya and the region.
Support of rugby by Patrons is usually done in a low-key manner and sometimes anonymously. Over the years, there have been many ways in which the Society and Patrons individually have been able to help. Ranging from materials, funds, expertise and counsel; from referees, through mini-rugby, junior coaching, to irrigation and bricks and mortar; each has their place in the facilitation of the game. But perhaps the most important today was the initiation of the “Safari Sevens”.
The whole concept of the Safari Sevens was the brainchild of Robin Cahill, a founder member of the Rugby Patrons Society. Supported by the Society, he masterminded and led a team of Patrons to run all the early years of the competition, and oversaw its integration as an enduring event of the Kenya Rugby Football Union’s calendar, where is now enjoys an international standing