Rwanda international center-back Abdul Rwatubyaye has made one of the most controversial moves in Rwandan football history, crossing over from APR FC to archrivals Rayon Sports. The player signed a two-year contract with the Blues this week.
The fast-rising youngster, who is regarded as the best central defender in the country, joins the 2016 Peace Cup winners as a free agent, following the expiry of his contract with the 16-time league winners.
Rwatubyaye, who came through APR academy, put pen to paper on Thursday afternoon, to complete a move that will see him feature for the seven-time league champions until 2018.
Rayon Sports secretary general and spokesperson, Olivier Gakwaya, told Saturday Sport, “We have signed Rwatubyaye and we trust his experience and skills will help our team to challenge for trophies next season.”
“He is one of the best defenders in the country. We wanted to boost our defence, and in Rwatubyaye, we’ve signed the best that you can get on the local market. You will see many more surprises during this transfer window,” Gakwaya added.
Rwatubyaye started believing he can make it in local football by 2009 when he joined APR football academy.
The Nyamirambo-born imposing centre-back is one of the few players who have grown from one national team level to another, from U17 to U20 to U23 and finally to the senior team.
But APR secretary general, Adolphe Kalisa said, “He is our player and he could be banned because he has gone without APR’s permission. He is a player from our academy and he cannot go anywhere without our permission.”
Rwatubyaye’s move comes after APR signed three players, who had just signed for other clubs.
They include left-back Emmanuel Imanishimwe, who penned a two-year contract extension with Rayon Sports, only to join APR one day later, and playmaker Muhadjir Hakizimana, who signed for AS Kigali only to be taken taken on ‘loan’ by APR, who also took striker Onesme Twizerimana, who was still contracted to AS Kigali.
After almost three years in the academy, Rwatubyaye was called up in the U17 national team for qualifiers of the AFCON U17 where Rwanda was eliminated by Botswana 6-5 on penalties in Kigali following a 1-all draw in both legs.
In late 2012, Rwatubyaye was signed by Isonga FC. He served the youthful side for one season and at the end of the season, before returning to APR in June 2013.
He becomes the latest player to join a long list of high-profile players to cross from APR to Rayon Sports.
APR to Rayon and vice versa
The two rival clubs have a history of poaching players from one another.
Some of the high-profile players who have crossed from APR to Rayon Sports include; former Amavubi forward Jimmy Gatete, Amavubi goalkeeper Eric ‘Bakame’ Ndayishimiye, and now Rwatubyaye.
While those that have swapped Rayon Sports for APR include; defender Albert Ngabo, midfielders Jeannot Witakenge, Fuadi Ndayisenga, Tumaine ‘Titi’ Ntamuhanga, Djamar Mwiseneza, Faustin Usengimana, Dhihad Bizimana, Haruna Niyonzimana and striker Bokota Labama.
Meanwhile, APR have released seven first team players including, captain Ismail ‘Kodo’ Nshutinamagara and long-serving goalie Jean-Claude Ndoli.
Others are; midfielders Yannick Bukebuke, Tumaine ‘Titi’ Ntamuhanga and strikers Jean Bertrand Iradukunda, Farouk Ruhinda, Bernabe Mubumbyi, Michel ‘Bugesera’ Ndahinduka and Bienvenue Mugenzi.