From Nairobi School to the World: The Story of Innocent Simiyu

Former Kenya Sevens Head Coach Innocent Simiyu
Former Kenya Sevens Head Coach Innocent Simiyu
Rugby Afrique

Innocent "Namcos" Simiyu was born on April 24, 1983.

Namcos, as close friends call him, started playing rugby in 1998 when he joined the prestigious Nairobi School and has never looked back on rugby ever since.

The school has a thriving rugby culture and has one of the strongest rugby teams among Kenyan high schools. Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi is one the alumnus of the school who also played rugby.

Also Read: Kenya Sevens Coach Innocent Simiyu Fired

Simiyu’s academic excellence not only earned him a place at the national schools but also landed him an insurance career despite being in the Kenyan rugby scene.

After Nairobi School, Simiyu played for Impala RFC and later at the Kenya Harlequins where he built an impressive union as a player setting a foundation for his illustrious sporting career that later earned him a spot as a manager at the Kenya Rugby Union.

The Humphrey Kayange and Collins Injera brothers the metaphorical; Kenyan rugby brother duo has become sensational outside of Kenya. Simiyu’s family is also made up of rugby players such as former national rugby union players Nato Simiyu and Victor Sudi who are Namco’s brothers.

As a player in the national team, the 39-year-old served as Kenya 7s captain from 2006 to 2008.

Among the feats in the peak days of his career was Kenya’s Player of The Year in 2010 when he played for Impala Saracens in the Kenya Rugby Union awards gala ceremony which was his claim to fame.

One of his most outstanding moments as a player was when he played a record 121 matches for Kenya 7s in the World Rugby Sevens series.

At the Kenya 15s, Namcos earned over 30 cup titles for the team sparking more admiration from lovers of the game. 

As a player, his biggest woes were injuries which saw him take long breaks from the game he loved with his longest break being from 2011 to 2014 after sustaining a knee injury during the Bamburi super series.

Besides the injuries, Simiyu’s serious woes befell him after his coaching debut in 2017 when he was given the role to steer the Kenya 7s taking over from the veteran rugby coach the late Benjamin Ayimba.

On June 21, 2018, Simiyu experienced a major career setback when he was sacked as the Kenya 7s head coach by the Kenya Rugby Union following the Paris 7s saga.

Surprisingly, he was brought back as the coach four days later after his dramatic sacking which became a subject of discussion.

In his reign as the head coach, the 7s team garnered 104 points in 2018 which was the highest under his stewardship.

Additionally, he led Kenya to two cup finals in Hong Kong and Vancouver where the Kenyan boys lost to their archrival Fiji in both cases. Under Benjamin Ayimba the 7s wrote a new chapter in Kenyan rugby books by beating the enigmatic Fiji 7s.

It remains to be seen if Simiyu will make another comeback following his dismissal by the KRU on Wednesday, May 11.