Voice of Sport

Kenya Sevens stars’ presence lights up inaugural rugby tourney in Homa Bay County

But obvious lack of direction from Nairobi-based management causes the degenerating standards of once the premier 10-a-side tournament in Nakuru that witnessed serious organisation flaws this year


AT their recent elections Kenya Rugby Union failed to pay a bill as low as Sh20,000 for borrowed poll equipment and facilitators, demonstrating the extent of how the organisation is cash-strapped. One of the direct victims of this situation was the lack of previous support to competitions round the country as exemplified during the long Easter Weekend where an event like Nakuru’s Great Rift 10-a-side tournament degenerated into a farce at times.

Also, left to their own devices, the rugby fraternity resulted to their own innovations, some heading to different destinations, hence watering down the once high-profile Nakuru 10s down to literally a social jaunt.

Governor’s launch

Many college — including the Kenya Cup side Kenyatta University Blak Blad — and rising county community teams attended the inaugural Nyeri Sevens. Homa Bay County also launched their own 10-a-side competitions and colourfully attracted some of Kenya’s most known international rugby stars including the stars Dan Sikuta and Michael Agevi of Mwamba and others from various other clubs in the country.

Their Wakulima Invitation team beat a Mwamba select 10-7 in the Homa Bay Final. In Nyeri Blak Blad beat Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) 12-0 in a thrilling final at Kabiruini Show Ground to lift the trophy.

Confident youth

En route to the final Blak Blad beat Karatina University 50-0 while KeMU beat Marshals 17-0. Blak Blad’s prize was Sh100,000 cash. Nyeri County Government’s sports secretary Lucy Mugure Wanyitu said rugby had opened Nyeri to countrywide attention “as a great sporting and tourism destination to all Kenyans.”

She told the teams: “Thank you for coming. Nyeri traditionally produces great athletes. But you have inspired and made our youth confident that they can be appreciated like any other in the rest of the country. They will not feel neglected from now on”.

Publicity

Among the teams that took part were: KeMu, Karatina University, Dedan Kimathi University, Kirinyaga University College, Mt Kenya University and Thika, Kamrose, Karatina, Nanyuki, Kiambu, Marshals and  Aberdares rugby clubs. Organisers promised to carry out early publicity campaigns to attract more fans at future events.

But attraction was no issue in Homa Bay where locals turned out in big numbers to have a glance at Kenya’s biggest names in the game as well as the well known Mwamba club of Nairobi of Nairobi — home of Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera, Lavin Asego, Horace Owiti, Sikuta and Agevi among other greats — who were in attendance.

Governor Cyprian Awiti had rendered great support to the preparations of the event and opened the two-day tournament with 20 teams attending. In the semi-finals Wakulima beat Kisii 29-0 as Mwamba downed Strathmore University’s ‘El-nino’12-7.

The quarter-final results were: Wakulima beat Bungoma Sharks 29-0; Mwamba bt Homa Bay RFC 10-0; Kisii RFC bt Kisumu 24-0 and ‘Elnino’ bt Harlequins 12-0.

The attending teams were:

Pool ‘A’: Mwamba, Citam Kisumu, Kisii, Kisumu II

Pool ‘B’: Harlequins, Bungoma Sharks, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University, Moi university Rongo

Pool ‘C’: Strathmore University ‘El –nino’,  Homa Bay, Maseno University, Sony Sugar

Pool ‘D’: Wakulima Invitation, Kisumu, Kitale, Homa Bay II

Meanwhile at the Great Rift 10s which was moved from the traditional Nakuru Athletic Club to a new site at the Show Ground a serious fall standards from the past was worrying.

For an event said to be sponsored by among others Top Fry, Kabras Sugar [Menengai Oils], among others it was a shock to see referees boycott matches at the quarter final stage saying they were where not provided with drinking water.

Teams and players never widely disappointed while organizers claiming lack of seriousness and attention to details. In one quarter final a winning team fielded more than the allowed number of players. Experienced coaches such as Strathmore University ex-international player and coach Mitch Ocholla were involved in protests that almost boiled over.

Harlequins were shocked when they turned up for the play-off for third place to find that hosts Nakuru were not interested in playing, handing them a walkover. It was worse in the women’s category where Mwamba were declared winners when their opponents in the final, Kenya Commercial Bank [KCB] failed to show up.

Fuming Quins said if Nakuru had no interest in their own tournament they should be prepared to play without visitors next year. Under scorching heat, the Nakuru ASK Show Ground was a discomfort and it took frequent watering using a truck to calm down the dust.

The  referees’ boycott due to lack of water was only resolved by the intervention of the tournament’s broadcast partners ZukuSports TV. Strathmore University beat Kabras Sugar 10-0 to lift the main cup.

It was an easy run for the Nairobi varsity students in a tournament deprived of maximum top level competition. The Leos earlier beat  Technical University of Kenya [TUK] 36-0, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology [JKUAT] 58-0 and Kenya College of Accountancy [KCA] University 45-0.

The red flag was also raised over the wisdom of running a simultenous age-groups programme, including several Under-14 categories for boy and girl children in a tournament with total lack of control of drinking, smoking and partying habits of a vast majority of attendant fans.

The Nakuru tournament was one of the leading competition in the country that depended of the direction of the KRU but now people point out at the total lack of capacity by the Union to control or guide rugby mainly due to management wrangles and loss of sponsorship. The search of other venues by stakeholders to spread the game to the rest of the country is clearly without the dependence on KRU.

Great Rift 10s, Nakuru

Main Cup:

Final:

Strathmore University 10-0 Kabras

 Semi finals:
Nakuru 0-10 Strathmore
Kabras 8-5 Harlequins

Quarter finals:

KCB 7-10 Nakuru
Harlequins 12-0 Impala
Kabras 12-7 Technical University of Kenya [TUK]
Strathmore 17-0 Homeboyz