Monday, June 30, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Strathmore will host Kenya Harlequins, Mombasa host Impala, Nakuru host Nondies and Mean Machine are at home to Mwamba. KCB have a rest day. Most teams have now picked up their rhythm. I give Quins their game, Impala will win in Mombasa, though not as easily as they would like, Nakuru will walk over Nondies but the last game could go either way. With the Injera brothers now firing on all cylinders, it tilts in their favour. Results as soon as I have them as usual.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Focus will now shift to the fifteen-a-side team as they begin the campaign for the CAR Cup and attempt to pull another rabbit out of the hat to reclaim the Elgon Cup. We play Cameroun on the 12th of July at home and Tunisia on the 2nd of August in Tunis. The Elgon Cup return match is on 16th of August.
Without alignment of our leagues with the international season, these games are going to be held smack in the middle of the second half of our league, the crucial time when all points matter. Apparently a club representatives meeting passed that no team will be allowed to postpone any game due to unavailability of players, even on international assignment. I have touched on this briefly before, but I do not agree with this rationale. Why should a team be punished for having players in the national team? A clear case in point, Impala have only lost one game this season. Apparently this happened when the 15's team was in Uganda and the 7's team in England. They had over 7 players missing in total. They played Nakuru who had one player missing! I wonder, does this make sense? That the clubs themselves passed this resolution makes me wonder just which clubs attended the meeting and what their agenda was? And for the union to happily agree to this also makes me wonder if they know what they are doing. An interesting scenario arises here also. When Kenya play at home, there are no league matches on that day, whereas when they play away, the league continues unabated! Again, what is the reasoning?
I think rules are made to level the playing field and leveling does not mean removing whatever advantage, perceived or not, from one team. If a club reps meeting's resolutions are found to be unworkable, the union have the power to overturn them, like they have so many times in the past. This time it seems they may also have an agenda here!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The standards of refereeing throughout the tournament cast a poor reflection on the quality rugby played over the weekend. The lack of consistency by referees individually and collectively was too glaring to overlook It was as if all referees were referring to different rugby rules booklets. This coupled with a lack of appreciation of basic rules and/or the spirit in which the same were formulated was quite disappointing.
In spite of all this however, the Kenyan sevens team showed us why they are the most exciting team in world to watch going forward, with their customary fast paced, high tempo, 14 minutes hard running game style.
It was quite a breathtaking and exhilarating display of pure athleticism.
However it was also apparent that we have not worked on our defensive game. Our tackling and cover defense was weak if not absent. Out of the entire team the only players who the opposition found hard to run through were Kayange, Injera and Biko. Their defensive work rate was in overdrive to cover the weak efforts of their teammates. With such a defensive cover Kenya will never win any serious tournament where the teams are well trained in all aspects of the game. Attack, Defense, Racking, Retaining kick offs, Turning over the ball the tackle, releasing on the tackle or on deck, support play, spreading the ball wide and fluidity in passing the ball.
Kenya’s hard fought win over Zimbabwe was testament to the fact that we still have a long way to go. Zimbabwe is not a core team in the IRB sevens circuit and lack the exposure of our boys. But they are always a difficult opponent. Why? They play our kind of game, hard running and fast paced. And why can they soon have the edge over us? Apart from speed they are working on the other aspects of the game, mainly defense. That is why games against them are always low scoring. As for the emerging boks whom every one seem proud to have beat, everyone seems to forget that this was a weak side with no known regular player from any South African provincial side. And if they had run hard at us, who knows how the game could have gone. Thanks to Kayange for single handedly denying them possession by dominating lineout’s and recovery of kick offs, Injera for bruising hard tackling, and Biko for excellent support and cover defense. Without these players the final could have been lost even before the kickoff.
If we are to stick to a hard running game we should also do what it takes to maintain such a style not only for a tournament but an entire season. It demands that ALL players must be at their peaks in physical fitness at all times. There is no room for slouches. Fitness levels that have not been seen before in the country have to be realised. Strength training has worked for the team. Our players have the required strength to hold their own in rack situations. All that’s left is perfection on proper entering of the rack, positioning, and offloading the ball before the rack is destabilized, or turned. We have also been heavily punished for illegal turnovers and contesting of the opponents rack throughout the season. Penalty offences have often turned a came where we were comfortably ahead.
All in all with proper focus, on our weak points (skills/players), we have four exceptional players in Mwanja,Kayange,Simiyu and Injera who should act as a platform from which Kenya should mould a team to win an IRB sevens circuit tournament, or world cup.
Signed Big Fan
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Other winners in the event were Western Province in the schools category, Harlequins in the veterans, Zambia the shield, Japan the bowl and Bristol University the plate.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The other quarter finals see Samurai take on Zimbabwe, Bristol take on France and Tunisia the Emerging Boks. Kenya's 2nd side Shujaa drop to the Bowl competition and will play Tanzania. I wish the boys well in the showdown at mid day.
Shujaa continue to struggle to find their form and have lost their second match. Western have won the School's competition.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The two sides go to show the wealth of talent that is in the country and the inclusion of several new players can only assist to build the depth that is much needed. And say what you may, this is also a pseudo trial for the World Cup Qualifiers in October. That the players usually save their best performances for home is well known and the electric atmosphere of the RFUEA ground only serves to push the players more.
I wish both sides well as they go into the tournament.
For more information on the Safari Sevens you can visit www.safarisevens.com and www.kenyarfu.com.
Monday, June 16, 2008
The people who have read my past posts will know my feelings for The Tusker Safari Sevens and what it does or rather does not do for Rugby in Kenya. However, I am also not one to miss a good party and that it certainly is. So before the fever catches me, here goes.
The Safari Sevens was mooted as an idea to develop rugby in the country. It was to help place Kenya on the international map as a great rugby playing nation and as a great rugby playing destination. Whether this has been achieved or not after eleven year of the event is not the subject of my post today, mine is the regression that has occured.
In the early years of the Safari Sevens, it may have been difficult to get good quality or even just enough sides to attend the event. This resulted in several last minute inclusions of teams that were at best weak select sides. It was thus felt that to improve the quality of 7s in the country, a local sevens circuit was to be developed. The ultimate prize for the winner of the circuit was to play in the prestigious Safari Sevens. Many an ageing player suspended their retirement to try and get the chance to do this. This year will be the first year since the inception of the local circuit that the winner is not participating in the tournament. This to me is a major backward step in the development of Kenyan Rugby. What then is the motivation for a club to win the circuit? There is no prize money and with the withdrawal of the automatic ticket, no prize after all. And that takes me back to my pet subject, is this union club friendly or development conscious at all? That the circuit winner can easily beat teams like Rwanda, Tanzania, Seychelles, Botswana, and even Morrocco amongst many others (village teams from the UK) makes it even harder to understand the omission of these teams, but again, do they really care?
Have a fantastic time at the Sevens but keep asking yourself these questions.
I will be providing updates from Russia, the closest place to the action.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Other matches see Nondies host Strathmore, Mwamba host Mombasa and Machine at home to Nakuru. The closest of these games should be the last at the campus grounds. Impala have a rest day. As usual, results here as soon as I get them.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
My belief is that the union should play a major role in developing and strengthening the clubs. They should assist clubs in seeking sponsorship in order to get maximum value of sponsorship opportunities for the sponsoring parties. In the past the union has attempted to do this. They have got sponsorship for the league, but only with an aim to seeing their own (union's) costs covered. Nothing trickles down to the clubs (unless you drunk Guinness in that day). The union also tried to get all clubs to play games at a central venue, akin to the Rugby Super Series. They offered this to a sponsor who was willing to take it up, but once more they only considered their costs. When clubs were called in to endorse the deal (very late in the day), it was overwhelmingly rejected, especially by the self supporting clubs. Some said it was to protect their bar revenues, but had the union consulted the clubs on what it cost them to run their teams (not clubs) for a season and factor this in the sponsorship?
And therein lies my point. We have an aloof union that meets at Nairobi Club and decides for the thousands who play rugby in this country. They are not in direct touch with the players and neglect the people who are, the clubs. That most of the directors have not been involved directly in club management speaks a lot for the decisions they come up with. It is not a moot point that the union needs the clubs, and vice versa. How then can the Union involve itself with rugby from where it matters?
The Union has to be more in touch with the goings on of rugby. They need to hold regular stake holders' forums, not to push down legislature or issue threats or come down heavy on clubs, but to listen to them in in return find out what is happening at the clubs. That union directors celebrate when a club is in trouble instead of seeing how to help just emphasises this point. Only then will the union really know what is happening as opposed to what should be happening. Where is all this coming from? For the union to schedule league matches when international fixtures are on is just creating friction. To assume that players would rather play for their country than their clubs is also creating friction. All this can be avoided with simple communication, and communication is two-way, not one way. And all will be happy and all will be well.
Monday, June 9, 2008
All in all, this week see re-alignment take place once more all over the table. Impala swap places with KCB at the top while Nakuru retain their third position. Quins consolidate their hold on fourth and are poised to strike should any of the top three slip up. I am yet to confirm the remaining order but it should now be Mwamba, Strathmore, Machine, Mombasa and Nondies remain lodged firmly at the bottom.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
C. Macharia - Impala
J. Macharia - KCB
F. Amiani - KCB
P. Oketch - Mwamba
G ODIPO - QUINS
F. Ngaira - Nakuru
K. Imbuge - Impala
D. Ekasi - Impala ( V Captain)
E. Abere - Mwamba
H. Libasia - KCB
O. Ocholla - Impala
C. Shimenga - Nakuru
B. Omondi - KCB
B. Otieno - KCB
S. Okeyo - Mwamba
S. Mutwiri - Mwamba
P. Wamae - KCB
M. Ndemi - Impala
D GITAU - QUINS
M. Mwole - Impala
V. Mose - Nakuru (Captain)
One interesting thing is that with such crucial games going on, there is a Kenya "A" trip to Arusha this same weekend. Impala have 6 players on that squad and KCB 6 as well. Is that balancing or depleting the sides before a crucial game? I see a number of players shying off from traveling for one reason or the other but fully available for their clubs! I will post that Kenya "A" squad shortly.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Forgive me, today I've really rambled on, even no paragraphs!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
My take, it was a successful circuit. We proved we have the players to get to the top. What has been exposed is our lack of depth or structures to sustain the top. We cannot consistently perform simply for that reason. I don't know whether it is the clubs to blame or the union, or is it a collective responsibility. I really don't know. But the powers that be have all the resources at their disposal to try and right things. As I mentioned in earlier posts, we cannot reduce national coaches to being development officers and selectors, they have a bigger job to do!