Thursday, December 31, 2009
2009 was a very eventful year. Several events happened that shaped the course of the year and the course of rugby in Kenya. Highlights of the year were the international events that took place here. The Junior World Rugby Trophy ranks very highly in the list of tournaments that the IRB holds and hosting it was a great honour and privilege. At that level we also hosted the Africa Under 19 Rugby Championships. We also once more hosted the annual Safari Sevens Rugby tournament. With such major events taking place, and given our still born bid to host the Rugby Sevens World Cup in 2009, one would have expected us to bid once more to host the RWC Sevens of 2013. But apparently someone woke up and smelt the coffee. Despite the spirited defense of the union and our ill capacity, anyone who attended the events mentioned above, we are nowhere near capable of hosting a major event. From claims of embezzled funds to mismanaged resources to skewed allocation of opportunities for volunteers to nepotism and extortion of suppliers to simply ill equipped grounds to hidden funds in other accounts and the list is endless..., it was clear we would not even bother to put in a bid! However, kudos all the same for putting Kenya on the world map, for whatever reason.
Still on international events, the national sevens team did us proud. Questions arise as to whether we have reached our limit or still have more to offer? And if more, how much more? To me what matters most is we have proved we have the potential and we have the players. What we have failed to prove is that we know how we produced those players. Clearest evidence of this is in the lack of bench power when needed most. But we are all proud of their achievements and look forward to their next milestone - winning a few legs of the sevens circuit. The national fifteeens team, not much I can say about them. What I have said in the past stands. One step forward, two steps back, and no one knows how to stop the backward steps. Suffice to say the no one extends all the way to union level with responsible people content to simply ensure all allowances are paid and doing nothing more. Methinks we need some sort of guidance or advisory panel for the board to offer them direction as they seem clueless.
On the local scene, the Super Series proved to be quite a success. More success to me would be the modeling of the Kenya Cup to pick the good points from the Super Series. The major one would be the tournament organising and technical committees. These ensure equitable representation of all the stakeholders in the event of which they are actually the owners. Talk on the table now is of Tusker taking up sponsorship of the Kenya Cup. My advise to the clubs, be very careful. The union does nothing to ensure the Kenya Cup runs but will want to keep the bulk of the sponsorship for "administrative purposes" (read keeping the bloated ineffective biased secretariat running). The clubs should ensure the bulk of the money trickles down to the participating teams and there is substantial prize money, for all their sweat. And lastly, the union has no soul left (already sold to the highest bidder), don't let it sell out the souls of the clubs as well (read sponsorship rights - clubs need to look at any sponsorship agreement and ensure it does not infringe on their rights as independent entities). Other than that I think the Kenya Cup was the most competitive in recent times and very entertaining.
On the other hand the National Sevens Circuit was a disaster. Too long, matches every weekend, fatigue on players, spectators, administrators. No light at the end of the tunnel for players, clubs. Perhaps the only positive out of it was the confirmation of my belief that 7's and 15's are two different games and maybe need to be treated as such. Taking nothing away from the champions Strathmore as they were worthy champions, but wondering how to translate what we saw in the 7's on the 15's pitch! Once we can do that, we will surely have improved Rugby in Kenya.
Do have a Happy New Year. Think positive and act positive always. Once more my challenge to the various groups. Players, train hard on your fitness, strength, conditioning and skills. Clubs, work equally hard on your administrative abilities, providing for the basic needs of the players and being a model to the union on player management. And to the union, listen to your sons, for they mean well for you....
Monday, December 28, 2009
NZRU announces new competition structure
A new competition structure of 14 premier provincial unions was unveiled today as part of the proposed new agreement between the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the Players' Association.
Next year will feature a full 14-team round robin with semifinals and a final, the same format as 2009. But in 2011, a new structure will see the 14 teams split into two divisions of seven, based on their on-field finishing positions in 2010.
The top seven teams will form the Premiership and the bottom seven teams the Championship. Teams will play all other teams in their division plus four other teams from the other division.
The NZRU said there would be an "innovative" new process for teams to select their cross-division opponents, with the detail to be finalised in the first quarter next year.
The winner of the Championship will receive automatic promotion to the Premiership, replacing the seventh placed team in the Premiership, which will be relegated to the Championship.
In 2011, due to New Zealand hosting the rugby World Cup, the competition window will be restricted to eight weeks. As a result, in 2011 only, there will be three mid-week matches and no semifinals.
From 2012, the competition will begin two weeks after the conclusion of the new expanded Super Rugby in mid-August and be played over 12 weeks. This will see the introduction of semifinals and no mid week matches.
Test rugby has the smile back on its face, and it has the All Blacks to thank for that.
As Graham Henry's New Zealand side ran in five tries to finally unleash its attacking arsenal at the Stade Velodrome yesterday, the stunning 39-12 victory over France not only rounded off the autumn test programme in style, but made an emphatic statement about the quality of the fare being served up in the international arena.
Yes, the laws of the game may be deeply flawed, and the match officials given way too much leeway to stamp their mark on proceedings. And, yes, it's deeply ironic that northern hemisphere unions now appear to be backtracking on the much-maligned ELVs, many of which they gave short shift to without even bothering to trial them.
But the All Blacks showed yesterday, with a little help from the French, that if your intent is positive, your skills are at the sharp end of the spectrum and the opposition plays ball, then test rugby can still be a beautiful thing to watch.
The All Blacks were at times poetry in motion as they mercilessly punished les Bleus for their failings. At a juncture when the test game has come under the microscope for its one dimensional and - frankly - boring style, and pundits in this part of the world have been wringing their hands in angst over the diminishing entertainment value, this was just what the doctor ordered.
It's too early to tell whether it's an elixir, or just a temporary tonic, but there was a hefty element of the altruistic about an All Black performance that put the ultimate exclamation point on their season. They finished with six straight test victories, another unbeaten run through the north and their tryline intact for the second straight sweep through Europe.
The All Blacks touched perfection as their forwards laid on a splendid platform up front -- once their scrum steadied from an early French onslaught -- owned the breakdown with the world's best player Richie McCaw in imperious form, and finally unleashed the backline's full fury. Some of their handling was simply sublime.
By the end even the passionate French had been won over, the capacity crowd at the Stade Velodrome rising as one to applaud the white-shirted All Blacks as they trudged off the field. Was it possible rugby was an even bigger winner than les Blacks?
When even a born optimist like Graham Henry admits "there's been some pretty boring stuff over the last year", you know the game has an issue. "It was just good to see two teams wanting to play some attacking rugby," noted the All Blacks coach in a fairly unsubtle dig at what many of his side's opponents brought to the table in 2009.
"I think everyone needed that performance," added standout All Black wing Cory Jane who scored a fine individual try in the second half. "The rugby was pretty flat all year, with not many tries. Everyone loves to see tries, and I guess it was getting pretty boring and everyone was commenting on it.
"To go out there and put in that kind of display, hopefully that's put the spirits up in the rugby world."
Fullback Mils Muliaina, who with his 82nd test cap passed Justin Marshall as second on the all-time appearance list, reckoned it was a sort of rugby perfect storm.
"Everything was just perfect -- the weather, the field, the occasion and leaving the changing-room you just knew something was going to happen tonight. You could see it on the boys' faces.
"We pride ourselves as New Zealanders in ensuring the rugby is healthy, and there had been a little negativity about the whole thing. Hopefully we erased that for the year."
Added the maestro Dan Carter, whose vivacious touches in the pivot contributed mightily to the spectacle: "There's been a lot of tough rugby this year, some reasonably low scores and not many tries, and we've been part of that. As a player it's very satisfying to back yourself that you can play that style of rugby, and for it to come off, we're very pleased.
"It just shows it's possible to go out and score tries which we've been trying to do for a while now."
Ironically the French may have contributed to the comprehensive nature of the defeat by buying into the open style. It is probably not the best way to play the All Blacks. But maybe this was one of those times when there was a greater cause to consider.
The All Blacks' testing tour 2009:
| || |
France let the All Blacks have their way
OPINION: As magnificent as the Marseille test was, don't go expecting internationals like this every weekend - the pragmatists simply won't allow it.
While we celebrate the superb rugby the All Blacks played it should be remembered they were helped by the positive approach of France.
For the first time this season they found a side that was willing to run the ball back at them more often than it was kicked their way.
With the All Blacks forwards in such commanding form at the breakdowns that was commendable but suicidal from the French.
It's what the Springboks never tried to do. It's why the Springboks record against New Zealand is 3-0 this year.
What should be remembered is that under these rules it takes two to tango. The All Blacks have never wavered from their belief that rugby should be a running game. They have still tried to go down that avenue while everyone around them has taken to kicking the ball. The All Blacks have used a more measured approach with their boots, hopeful that when the moments were right, ball-in-hand rugby could still win.
The French, renowned for their flair, entered the spirit of the occasion and as a consequence the field opened up.
Rather than having a defensive line coming at them under a high ball, the All Blacks found the French coming at them in an attacking formation.
The New Zealanders, as they have throughout this tour, tackled like demons and fed off their ability to snaffle turnovers.
They then got into position to strike through good ball from their set pieces and even got the counter-attack try they were longing for in places like Bloemfontein and Durban.
Here was a test where just about everything clicked for the All Blacks. Those mid-season handling blues against the Springboks were a distant memory as passes stuck, some made from seemingly impossible positions.
But that's the difference. The French aren't the Springboks. They don't have the ability to play the relentless defence of the Boks nor do they have the desire to play the methodical but worryingly effective game of the South Africans.
And now that is the game that the All Blacks will have to try to break down.
Was what we witnessed at Marseille the new dawn rugby so dearly needs or a false dawn against a month of forgettable internationals up north on the back of a turgid season down south?
Sadly I would suggest the latter, purely because when the stakes get higher and higher heading towards the next World Cup, most teams won't revert from a win-at-all costs approach.
While the Springboks will be disappointed with the end to their year they will also be content that they did the business when it mattered most - in a wonderful series with the British & Irish Lions and in almost completely dominating the Tri-Nations.
Has their kick and chase game been overtaken on the back of one scintillating display
Friday, December 18, 2009
From myself and hopefully the rest of the contributors here at rugbykenya.blogspot.com, we wish you Happy Holidays. Do enjoy your Christmas and the New Year Celebrations. Let us try to practice what we preach and do everything in moderation. All the while thinking about tomorrow, because though it never comes, yesterday is also gone forever.
Just to put you in the mood, some famous rugby quotes from youtukan.com.
Here are some funny famous rugby quotes:
"Andy Ellis - the 21 year old, who turned 22 a few weeks ago"(Murray Mexted - ex Wellington player)
"Colin has done a bit of mental arithmetic with a calculator." (Ma?a Nonu)
"He scored that try after only 22 seconds - totally against the run of play." (Murray Mexted)
"We actually got the winning try three minutes from the end but then they scored." (Phil Waugh Warratah)
"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body." (Jerry Collins)
"That kick was absolutely unique, except for the one before it which was identical." (Tony Brown)
"I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father." (Tana Umaga)
"Sure there have been injuries and deaths in rugby - but none of them serious." (Doc Mayhew)
"If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again."(Anton Oliver)
"I would not say he (Rico Gear) is the best left winger in the Super 14, but there are none better." (Murray Mexted)
"I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat." (Ewan McKenzie)
Murray Deaker: "Have you ever thought of writing your autobiography?" Tana Umaga: "On what ?"
"Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw."(Murray Mexted)
"Strangely, in slow motion replay, the ball seemed to hang in the air for even longer."(Murray Mexted)
If you don't hear from me again, see you in January.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The tournament takes place between February 5th and 6th next year.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Circuit tournament Driftwood Sevens was hosted by a club that failed
to even enter a side in it. Why then is it in the circuit then? Kenya
Rugby Football Union needs to address this to find out why the Mombasa
RFC is probably dying a natural death. Even the dismal crowds at this
years event was a telling sign that all is not well at the Mombasa
The good side is that emerging in the coastal town is Mombasa Poly RFC
and Mombasa Shepherds RFC. The latter even benefited from a kit
donation from KRFU Chairman Richard Omwela over the weekend. These two
teams are offshoots of Mombasa RFC where rumours and murmurs in the
offing state that players have been mistreated and chastised by the
main club committee.
It is said that the players were denied use of showering facilities
and the ground was closed to rugby since the end of the league.
Players then looked elsewhere as the rugby pitch is being converted to
a soccer pitch (disgusting). It is said a new rugby pitch will be
built for them outside the club.
Two days of hot Driftwood Sevens rugby with some of my former
college/teammates enjoying the free booze of their success was good
but sadly the Mombasa RFC is a slow punctured effort. Sitting at the
bar where eventually we were joined by KRFU development officer Fred
Ollows were Ray Dawa (Chairman???), Oliver Ongango, Oliver Khabure,
Amir Mwatsahu, Nick Munyi, Caleb, David Mwashumbe and Joshua Aroni.
The others names could not be remembered.
In typical fashion they spoke about the good old days and drank to the
memories of yesteryear. Nostalgia crept in when it was remembered that
Edwin Obuya had a successful stint as a player, coach and chairman of
Mombasa RFC. Unfortunately no one built on that foundation. No wonder
the John Mutua's and Tom Muchura's have fled the rugby scene at
Who will save Mombasa RFC? At the same time let Mombasa Poly RFC and
Mombasa Shepherds RFC flourish to build rugby at the Coast.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Kudos Collins Injera, Sportsman of the Year, Benjamin Ayimba, Coach of the Year and the entire Shujaa team, Team of the Year. And that was just the start. The country top honcho saw fit to reward three rugby personalities with the Order of the Golden Warrior award, though I am yet to independently confirm that. That is great. And the gauntlet is now thrown forward. We must live up to the billing.
The Western Union National Sevens Circuit also came to a close with Strathmore University winning the diadem by claiming three out of the five titles at stake. The circuit was a real revelation, as well as a real eye opener. Our National Sevens side Shujaa also put up a credible performance in the opening two legs of the IRB World Sevens Series and lie a credible sixth with one plate semi final appearance and one main cup semi final appearance. The revelation of the local circuit was the immense amount of talent available. The eye opener is that we do need the circuit to develop or even just to expose talent. Most pundits have it that we do not have a strong enough bench at the senior level, if that be the case then we need the circuit to fill those spaces. Though methinks different, and believe we are not giving the bench a chance to grow!!
The other thing that shocked me is that a team that came last in the fifteen a side league, won the seven a side league!! And what does that mean? Does it imply it is a totally different game? Were the players totally different? Is seven a side rugby the great equaliser? And which then is greater than the other? These, I think, are all questions we need to answer as we chart our path to improving Rugby in Kenya.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We will meet New Zealand in the Semi Finals.
The match will be at 14:51 EAT. Our path should see us meet either England or New Zealand in the Semi Finals should we progress. Wishing the lads the best of luck.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Complete order of play follows.
|20||15:42||U1 0 GAMES||vs||U 10 GAMES|
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Do have a good week and enjoy the final round of the circuit.
Monday, December 7, 2009
A lot of strategising is bound to take place this week as we go into those matches and the title has gone to the wire. The best would be a Strahmore/Quins final with winner take all...
Do have a good week.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Complete Order of Play
|08:00||U 14 POOL GAMES||U I4 POOL GAMES|
|18||15:06||MOMBASA POLY||vs||KENYA POLY|
|20||16:00||U1 4 FINALS||vs||U 14 FINALS|
Next the battle for group honours against England at 5.52 EAT.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Saint Mary's School, representing in the International Under 20 Men's category beat Waziri Warriors also from Kenya 37-0 but lost to Urdd Gobaith Cymru 43-22, Doverie 12 -5 and Pyrennes 12-5 also. With only five teams in this category, we await to see if they still stand a chance for the main cup. Waziri Warriors lost their other three matches to Urdd Gobaith Cymru 66 -0, Pyrennes 37-0 and Doverie 24-0.
Ladies' start their competition tomorrow.
Expectations are high back home after the team reached the semi finals of the Rugby Sevens World Cup last year and the finals of the Adelaide leg of the WSS. The core of the team has been retained with no single rookie in the side. The side thus has enough experience to carry it through. Questions however are being raised as to the preparations of the team with the players having been withdrawn from the local Sevens Circuit and they not having take part in any build up tournaments, unlike much of the opposition they will be facing. Suffice to say they will be relying on their experience and familiarity with each other to build a platform, I think, for the rest of the circuit.
These first two legs of the circuit have traditionally been our most difficult, presumable due to unavailability of players for various reasons, but this time I think we have actually carried our best squad. I however still think they will not be our best legs!
Keep it here for updates and comments after the matches.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Circuit leaders Quins are in Pool B and runners' up Nakuru in Pool D, with KCB as third seed leading Pool C.
Pool B has Quins, Mwamba, Mombasa Poly and Kenya Poly. Pool C has KCB, Masinde Muliro, USIU and Kisumu. Pool D winds up with Nakuru, Impala, Daystar and Nondies. Interesting pools will be Pool B and Pool D as teams try to get the "easier" quarter final pairing.
I will post the order of play once I get it.
Courtesy of Ultimate Rugby Sevens (http://www.ur7s.com)
Kenya Rugby 7's Captain Humphrey Kayange confirmed himself as one the major stars on the IRB Sevens circuit last season, inspirationally leading his side to their best year ever.
In October he was also part of the triumphant IRB committee that put the finishing touches on Rugby Seven’s successful Olympic campaign.
UR7s Robin Heymann spoke to the rapidly rising star ahead the new IRB Sevens World Series season in Dubai to find out what it was like meeting Jonah Lomu, Olympic funding, his future and who the jesters are in the Kenyan team.
Humphrey, what's been the Kenyan reaction following the news of Olympic inclusion for Sevens in 2016?
My fellow players are very happy and proud to be finally part of the Games. It means a huge amount as the Olympics is the greatest stage any player would want to participate in and thus being given such an opportunity is great s is the prospect of winning a medal. The fans have received the news very well, they will have something else to cheer at when watching the Games.
Will the Olympics give Sevens a boost in funding from the Kenyan Rugby Union?
Being part of the games will first mean an improvement of training facilities and resources and support. Funds will come through especially from the Olympic Committee and also the government for development of the sport. Companies will start supporting the team so I guess it will start.
What was it like spending time with legends like Lomu and Pichot in Copenhagen? Will you keep in touch with them?
It was a great moment for me especially meeting two rugby legends like Lomu and Pichot. They are guys we grew up looking up to and admiring. They are very good guys and both humble. The time we spent working on the project was really good. I most definitely will keep in touch with them and hope to see them again soon. We may be working on some projects so looking forward to seeing them again.
Describe your preparation ahead of the start of the IRB Season?
We have prepared well for Dubai and trained hard. It’s been tough work getting our bodies ready for the brutality and toughness of the season but we know of the work we have ahead of us. It’s a long season so we are taking this body conditioning very serious
Do you agree with your coach that squad players should be rested and kept away from the National Series?
Before the Kenyan National Sevens Circuit has been an important part of our preparations because we get the match conditioning before the start of the series in Dubai. But at the same time some of us have been playing throughout the season so before the start of the World Series the body needs at least need some rest plus conditioning before hitting the pitch. So in a way the coach might be right to keep players out.
What is the realistic prediction and hope for the 2009/10 IRB World Sevens Series?
We have not put the actual goals on the ground but we know as players we have a series win in us. Just going by our successes of last year we need to win at least one leg and also climb up the rankings from number 6 is basically one of our goals.
Who are the new players to look out for from the Kenyan team?
We have some really young, fast and strong lads coming through the team and soon we might get to see guys replacing some old guards. Young guys like Collins Omae, Patrice Agunda need to get the right guidance from the seasoned players like Collins Injera, Dennis Mwanja, Lavin Asego and the rest.
Which sides do you find it toughest to play against and which players from other nations do you respect most?
South Africa, England, NZ, Fiji, and Zimbabwe are some teams that we find very difficult to play against because some of these match us in our speed and others are more technical than us.
I do respect the guys from New Zealand and Fiji though. The way rugby sevens is a tradition in these countries makes me really respect them.
What are your personal playing ambitions for the future?
Right now I am concentrating on the Sevens team and building my profile much more through the sport. Playing overseas is every players dream and working to get fit, mentally and physically for that is something I would love to do soon.
Who are funny and entertaining characters in the Kenyan side?
Yeah we have a couple of guys like that. Ben Nyambu, George ‘jijo’ Mbaye, Lavin Asego, Dennis Mwanja are characters you never get bored with when you hang around them!
What do you do outside Rugby?
Outside rugby I work at Kenya Bureau Of Standards(KEBS) as a Laboratory Analyst so all of my time away from rugby I work there.
What are your interests? Do you follow any other sports?
Yeah for sure I love soccer and I am an ardent fan of Liverpool FC in the Premiership!
How do you like to unwind outside of rugby?
Apart from the occasional drink I like to travel upcountry or to be outdoors and spend time away. I love travelling, listening to music, and reading.
There are a number of pre-tournament activities taking place in the lead-up to the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens. Among these are several team visits to both Dubai Mall (on level two, near Costa Coffee) and Ibn Battuta Mall (India court) as well as performances by the Aggreko Dynamos cheerleaders. Please find below a schedule of events, which you are most welcome to attend.
Thursday 3rd December 2009
Kenya team visit Ibn Battuta Mall 15:00 – 16:00
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Today is World Aids Day. Always a time to sit back and think. How we are all either infected or affected. And why we do what we do the way we do it. By all being somehow implicated, it means we are all in it together. And due to that we must all find a way out together. Just reminiscing on last year's post on the same day, quite a bit has gone on since. That post covers it quite aptly and I'd encourage us to read it once more.
As part of the changes that occurred in rugby, the introduction of the "blood bin" was first misused, then approved and now it has been abused. Reference here is to the "bloodgate" scandal the shook the rugby world to the core, opening up a nasty can of worms that nearly brought the reputation of the game to its knees. What this reveals is that whereas rule changes are for safety and enjoyment of the game by all, people will always try to work round them for personal or other gain.
Mine today however is just to remember all those who ail with Aids, those who care for such patients and continue wishing those working to come up with some cure or vaccine God's speed on this journey. And in the same way we do not discriminate against those afflicted, let us not discriminate for any other other reason, be it race, gender, colour or club!
Have a blessed week.