Homeboyz will be formidable in National Circuit

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Sep 01, 2017
  • Paul Murunga is under no pressure as Homeboyz begin title defense. (SNA. File Photo)

  • Alvin Otieno who had a knee surgery will miss the whole season. (SNA. File Photo)

  • Kevin Wambua has named Michael Agevi as captain after he recovered from a shoulder injury. (SNA. File Photo)

There has been a steady growth since the first tournament of the Kenya Rugby Union National Sevens Circuit in 1999.

When the first leg kicks off in Mombasa on Saturday, there will be a nostalgic feeling across the board. While the adrenalin will be pumping in the players as they warm up for the first match, the same will be experienced by many not on the pitch.

A cursory glance of the technical benches of the competing teams has some coaches who once donned their team's colors in this popular event. The terraces will be full of some of the 'old guards' to whom MSC is worth the trip.

On the opposite end of the scale are youngsters who will be watching the action perhaps for the first time or appearing in the now popular age-grade rugby tournament.

Their joy is not just picking up the rugby ball and showing off the skills they have watched some of the seniors execute but, they will be rubbing shoulders with some of the Kenya 7's players who have become a household name worldwide.

These are players who compete in the World Rugby Sevens World Sevens Series where Kenya, a core team is one of the most popular. The youngsters dream of stepping in the shoes of these players when they grow up.

It is not just a dream because Nakuru RFC, which is being coached by Mitch Ocholla this season have reaped from their mini-rugby which has been a feeder to the junior and senior teams.

So much has changed over the years. perhaps the most significant has been the introduction of a second tier competition because of the overwhelming number of teams which use the shoter version of the game as a springboard to the 15's game.

Logistical nightmare

Handling a tournament with two tiers could be a logistical nightmare but over the years, KRU and the host teams have ensured clockwork precision which ensures that matches start and end on time.

Besides an increase in the number of teams, entertainment and social media hype has become a vehicle through which fans have their say. Such is the competition that some clubs use the social media to posts results as they happen.

For the opening two legs, rugby fans may not have a chance of seeing some of the national 7's players who have resumed training for what promises to be a very busy season with the Commonwealth Games (in Australia) and the RWC 7's (San Francisco, USA) as additional competitions.

Homeboyz, last year's overall winners will again dig deep in their squad because of the absence of key players with the national team. Paul Murunga, the coach is not worried.

"The draw is good and we expect good games against Nakuru and Western Bulls which are all top teams. They will push us to perform from the first game," Murunga stated

The former Kenya 7's assistant coach has retained most of the players who won the series last year and has added a few upcoming players in the wider squad. Some of the key players are Leonard Mugaisi Cyprian Kuto, Charles Omindi and Michael Wanjala.

Oscar Ayodi, Bush Mwale and Augustine Lugonzo are already training with the national team and could come in the fourth, fifth and sixth legs. Alvin Otieno who had a knee surgery will be out for the whole season.

Tony Onyango and Joshua Chisanga who are in the 15's team may come in after the third leg if there is a need. 

Murunga feels nop ressure as the defending champions. "We just keep cool and play according to our structures. No panic," he assures.

He says they did not rely on the unavailable national team players last year when they won. "We have depth."

Eric Shikuku captains Quins, last year's Driftwoon Sevens winners. Frank Wanyama, the Webuye Express and Eden Agero are with the national team.

Joash Odhalo who is coaching Quins will not have the services of Patrice Agunda too but has seasoned Herman Humwa and Jared Owinyo. 

Tough Pool B

They are in a tough Pool B whch also has Mwamba, Menengai Oilers and Kisii RFC.

Mwamba will be captained by Michael Agevi who has recovered from a shoulder injury. Key players include Brad Owako and Kevin Atandi. Hyke Otieno, brother to former Kenya 7's player Horace and Steve Sikuta whose brother plays for Kabras are also included in the team coached by Kevin Wambua.

Pool C could be a straight battle between Impala and KCB while Strathmore University and Kabras battle it out in Pool D.

Now in its nineteenth season, the National Sevens Circuit will be played over eight weeks starting with the season finale taking place over Mashujaa day weekend in the lakeside city of Kisumu.

The National Sevens Circuit has over the years played a crucial role in exposing, tapping and identifying Kenyan rugby sevens talent.

Some of these players could play in the Safari Sevens which runs from November 3-5.

The National Sevens Circuit is an annual series of rugby sevens’ tournaments run by the Kenya Rugby Union in conjunction with host clubs featuring teams from across the country.

Teams compete for the National Sevens Circuit title by accumulating points based on their finishing position in each tournament. The season’s circuit currently comprises 6 tournaments in 5 cities and towns namely Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Ngong’ and Kisumu.

Driftwood 7's draw 

Pool A: Homeboyz, Nakuru RFC, Blak Blad, Western Bulls; Pool B: Quins, Mwamba, Menengai Oilers, Kisii RFC; Pool C: Impala, KCB, Mean Machine, Mombasa Sports Club; Pool D: Strathmore University, Kabras Sugar, Nondescripts RUFC, KCA-U. 

Order of play

Homeboyz v Blak Blad (10 a.m.), Nakuru v Western Bulls (10.18), Quins v Menengai Oilers (10.36), Mwamba v Kisii RFC (10.54), Impala v Mean Machine (11.12), KCB v Mombasa Sports Club (11.30), Strathmore v Nondies (11.48), Kabras v KAC-University (12.06), Homeboyz v Western Bulls (12.24), Nakuru RFC v Blak Blad (12.42), Quins v Kisii RFC (1 p.m.), Mwamba v Menengai Oilers (1.18), Impala v Mombasa Sports Club (1.36), KCB v Mean Machine (1.54), Strathmore University v KCA-University (2.12), Kabras v Nondies (2.30), Blak Blad v Western Bulls (3.24), Menengai Oilers v Kisii RFC (3.42), Mean Machine v Mombasa Sports Club (4 p.m.), Nondies v KCA-University (4.18), Homeboyz v Nakuru RFC (4.36), Quins v Mwamba RFC (4.54), Impala v KCB (5.12), Strathmoe University v Kabras (5.30). 

Round 1: Driftwood Sevens, Mombasa, 2/3 September

Previous winners

1999: Impala, 2000: Impala, 2001: Impala, 2002: Ulinzi, 2003: Ulinzi, 2004: Impala, 2005: Quins, 2006: Quins, 2007: Mwamba, 2008: Mwamba, 2009: Strathmore, 2010: Mwamba, 2011: Mwamba, 2012: Quins, 2013: KCB, 2014:KCB, 2015: Nakuru, 2016: Homeboyz

Most Successful Teams In National Sevens Circuit History: Impala with 4 titles (1999,2000,2001,2004) Mwamba (2007,2008,2010,2011).

Nakuru is the only team from outside Nairobi to win the overall title, topping the 2015 edition.

Round 2: George Mwangi Kabeberi Memorial Sevens, Nairobi, 9/10 September

Round 3: Prinsloo Sevens, Nakuru, 23/24 September

Round 4: Sepetuka Sevens, Ngong, 30 September/1 October

Round 5: Christie Sevens, Nairobi, 14/15 October

Round 6: Dala Sevens, Kisumu, 21/22 October