The Elgon Cup: A celebration of Kenya and Uganda rugby

We explore the rugby rivalry between Kenya and Uganda in the annual battle for the Elgon Cup.

The East African rugby rivalry showcases the best rugby talent which Kenya and Uganda have to offer and allows players from both the national men’s and women’s teams the opportunity to compete for silverware.

The Elgon Cup has left a legacy beyond the field, uniting supporters of Kenya and Uganda through the spirit of rugby. Here, we take a look at the trophy behind one of the most heated rugby rivalries on the continent.

What is the Elgon Cup?

The Elgon Cup is named after Mount Elgon, a mountain on the border of Kenya and Uganda, and is the trophy given to the winner of a rugby match contested between the Kenya and Uganda men’s and women’s national teams on an annual basis. 

The Elgon Cup is played over two legs on a home and away basis and the winner on aggregate walks away with the prestigious trophy.

The men’s and women’s Elgon Cup has been played at various times of the year since its inception in 2004. Matches have been played in April and August, however more recently June and July has been the time of year that Elgon Cup matches take place.

When was the first match?

The first-ever Elgon Cup match between the Kenya Simbas and the Uganda Rugby Cranes took place between the men’s fifteens teams on 31 July, 2004 in Nairobi and on that occasion, Kenya won 18-8.

The Kenya and Uganda men’s teams have a great history on the rugby field and they have done battle 37 times since 1958, including matches prior to the Elgon Cup.

Their first meeting was on 24 May, 1958 in Kampala, with Kenya posting a 21-11 win over their opponents.

It would be 39 years before the two sides met again, Kenya picking themselves up from that win in Kampala with a 65-8 demolition job of the Rugby Cranes at the RFUEA Ground on 23 August, 1997. They would post three more wins before Uganda notched up their first-ever win against Kenya, posting a 31-22 result over the Simbas in Nairobi on 5 October, 2002.

Kenya lead the overall head to head in matches played between the two teams pre and post Elgon Cup with 25 wins while Uganda has registered 12 wins.

Where does the Elgon Cup take place?

The Elgon Cup has been played at several stadiums throughout Kenya and Uganda through the years, however the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi and the Kyadondo RFC and Legends RC grounds in Kampala are the usual venues where the Elgon Cup is played.

The biggest winning margin

The biggest winning margin in Elgon Cup history came on 10 July, 2013 when Kenya recorded a 51-11 victory over Uganda. This game was played at Mahamasina Stadium in Antanaravivo, Madagascar. There have been many exciting battles between the two teams over the years with the two teams playing to a 33-33 draw in Nairobi in 2017.

The first-ever women’s match in the Elgon Cup

The Kenya and Uganda women’s rugby team played their first-ever Elgon Cup match on 13 May, 2006 with Uganda winning 24-0, the return leg which took place in Kampala was closely contested with Uganda emerging with a 3-0 victory.

Who holds the women’s Elgon Cup title?

The Kenya women’s team are the current Elgon Cup champions after defeating Uganda 44-13 in the first leg of the Elgon Cup which was played in Kisumu Kenya on 22 June, 2019 and they did the double over Uganda with a 5-35 victory in Kampala on 13 July.

The Kenya Lionesses and the Lady Cranes rugby teams have played each other on 18 occasions in the Elgon Cup and Uganda have won the title three times while Kenya have lifted the cup on six occasions.

In terms of matches played the record stands at seven wins for Uganda while Kenya have won 10 Elgon cup matches, with one draw between the teams.

East African rivalry uniting supporters through rugby 

Former Kenya Simbas captain Davis Chenge believes that the Elgon Cup creates a great rugby culture between Kenya and Uganda and the rivalry unites fans from both countries and has helped develop rugby in both Kenya and Uganda. 

“The Elgon Cup is one competition I always look forward to, a chance to test ourselves against the best players from Uganda, as our fans test themselves against their Ugandan counterparts and the party after never disappoints. It has played a big role in raising the standard of rugby for both Kenya and Uganda,” Chenge said in an interview with the Kenya Rugby Union.

Former Uganda captain Herbert Wafula shared his sentiments on what it means for the Cranes to beat Kenya.

Wafula captained the Uganda team to a historic occasion when he led the Rugby Cranes to a first-ever victory away from home against Kenya in 2002 prior to the introduction of the Elgon Cup, however the history and the passion remains with every battle between the two developing rugby nations which attracts capacity crowds. 

“I am honoured to have led a great team in 2002 when Uganda won their first-ever game away from home,” Wafula told Kawowo Sports

“The ultimate test for any team is to win away from their comfort zone. When you beat a team at their home in international matches it shows you are clearly head and shoulders above them.”

Current world rankings

The Kenya men’s team are currently ranked at 32nd on the latest World Rugby Rankings with 52.55 ranking points while the Rugby Cranes occupy 40th position on the rankings with 47.84 points.

The Lionesses are ranked at 25th while the Lady Cranes sit in 39th place on the latest World Rugby Rankings.

The 2020 Elgon Cup

The 2020 Elgon Cup was scheduled to take place in July 2020, however Rugby Africa cancelled the international rugby season due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Both teams and supporters are eagerly awaiting an announcement on when the two nations will be able to resume their proud battle on the rugby field.

Read more: Madagascar: Mad about rugby >>

Last updated: Aug 17, 2020 8:55:59 AM
Photo of Jess Breach scoring a try for England against Ireland in the Women's Six Nations Championship 2020
Women's Rugby World Cup News Women in Rugby women-news-2021 RWC2021
Jess Breach: England winger has eyes set on Rugby World Cup 2021
England and Harlequins Women winger Jess Breach chats to World Rugby about her hopes for Rugby World Cup 2021.
WRWC 2017 semi-final: New Zealand v USA
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby women-news-2021
10 of the greatest women’s Rugby World Cup tries
With Rugby World Cup 2021 set to kick off in less than 12 months’ time, we take a look at 10 of the best tries ever to be scored at the tournament.
Women's Rugby World Cup trophy
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby mz-advisory women-news-2021 Women-news-coach RWC2021
Rugby World Cup 2021 Coaching interns confirmed as part of one year to go celebrations
All nine Rugby World Cup 2021 qualified teams to avail of Coaching Internship Programme opportunity.
One Year To Go Image
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby mz-advisory women-news-2021 RWC2021
Black Ferns to play opening Rugby World Cup 2021 match at Eden Park
Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand celebrates the one year to go milestone.
WRWC 2017: Final - England v New Zealand
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby women-news-2021 RWC2021
Rugby World Cup: The story so far
World Rugby takes a stroll down memory lane to look back at the eight previous women’s editions of Rugby World Cup.
Photo of England DRU v Wales DRU
Men's News Women in Rugby
10 things deaf rugby players want you to know about their sport
We caught-up with players and administrators from the England Deaf Rugby set-up to bust the myths around the sport, from why players sometimes play on past the whistle to how the front row knows when to engage.
Rugby United, Cologne, Germany
Junior Feature News Women in Rugby women-news-regions
Rugby United helps refugee children in Germany rebuild their lives
World Rugby’s Spirit of Rugby partner, Rugby United, has been helping the physical and mental wellbeing of refugee children in Germany for the past four years.
Fiao'o Fammausili and Selica Winiata celebrate winning Rugby World Cup 2017
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby women-news-2021
One year to go: Rugby World Cup 2021 gives New Zealand opportunity to inspire
Farah Palmer, Melissa Ruscoe, Selica Winiata and Rachael Burford look ahead to next September’s tournament, and discuss the impact RWC 2021 could have on New Zealand and beyond.
HSBC Canada Women's Sevens 2019
Women's Sevens News Tournament News Women in Rugby Women-news-sevens
From sevens to 15s: The likely stars of New Zealand 2021
We profile seven stars of the sevens circuit ready to make an impact at Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand.
Kirby Sefo playing for Queensland
Women's News Women in Rugby women-news-power
Kirby Sefo drawing on her own adversity to inspire young women
The former Wallaroo has created Subbed, a programme which uses rugby to encourage young women to talk about social issues including mental health and sexuality.