Slap in the face for women's rugby in Kenya

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Nov 27, 2017
  • News that Kenya Lionesses will not travel to Dubai wiped off the smiles on the faces of the players like Janet Okello. (SNA. File Photo)

"The truth is that we have no funds to take them to Dubai."

Richard Omwela, the Kenya Rugby Union chairman said to clear a cloud of dust which appeared after Kenya Lionness, failed to travel to Dubai to play in an invitational tournament.

This is the first time since 2009 that the women's team will be missing the tournament.

"As you know, this is an Invitational tournament and each participant, unlike the HSBC tournament have to pay for their own tickets, accommodation, ground transport and food which was working to about $30,000 against the backdrop of their having just participated in the qualifiers in Tunisia and the Simbas returning from a two-week tournament in Hong Kong that was not sponsored but in which we had to gauge their strength and preparedness for the World Cup qualification.

"We simply lacked resources to send them to Dubai but hopefully Hong Kong will be a reality. The SportPesa allocation to the team is not enough to do some of these tournaments," Omwela clarified.

The predicament by the Kenya Lionesses came barely after the World Rugby underscored its commitment to furthering gender equality at all levels of the organisation by announcing sweeping reform of its Council with an ambition of at least one-third women’s representation from next year.

Before Omwela's statement, details of the circumstances which led to Kenya Lionesses missing out from Dubai Sevens were sketchy. What emerged is that participation fee had not been paid for the team which has qualified for the Commonwealth games.

Fingers were pointed at the Kenya Rugby Union's finance department who 'overlooked' paying the participation fee.

Mid this year, the national seven-a-side men's team left in two batches for the closing two tournaments because their visas could not be processed on time. Funds had not been released.

Historic and unprecedented decision

World Rugby, In an historic and unprecedented decision spearheaded by Chairman Bill Beaumont, World Rugby will increase the number of people who may sit on Council – its highest decision-making body – from 32 to 49, with the 17 new representatives to be women.

The ground-breaking reform will give the 11 unions and six regional associations, who currently have an additional vote but no additional representative, the right to send an additional representative to Council subject to that person being female.

This will not result in any changes to the existing voting rights of unions or regional associations on Council. Unanimous approval to the proposal by Council at its recent meeting in London is a first and very important step in World Rugby’s wider strategy to accelerate women in rugby on and off the field of play and bring gender-balance to the highest levels of its governance.

The 2017-25 Women’s Plan – also ratified by Council at the same meeting – shows World Rugby is committed to being a global leader in sport, where women have equal opportunities in all areas, are integrated in strategy, plans and structures and make highly valued contributions to participation, performance, leadership and investment in the global game.

Beaumont said: “This is a major milestone in the progression and growth of World Rugby and the global game. The reform is historic, reflective of our ambitions and long overdue. If we are to promote and nurture the growth of women in rugby then change must be led from the top.

“I would like to thank my Council colleagues for their full commitment to this important reform and I look forward to welcoming their new representatives from rugby and beyond so that together we can work to further rugby worldwide. It is clearly a fantastic start and opens the door to even greater female representation in Council and across rugby in the future.”

Simba's away to Morocco

Elsewhere, Kenya Simbas start their 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign away to Morocco on Saturday, June 23, 2018 before hosting Zimbabwe in Nairobi a week later.

They will then host neighbors Uganda on July 7 before the championship takes a four-week break occasioned by the Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place from 20-22 July in San Francisco, USA.

The chase for continental supremacy will resume on August 11 when the Simbas host Tunisia in Nairobi before playing away to Namibia on August 18.

Next year’s championship will serve as Africa’s qualifying round for the 2019 Rugby World Cup set for Japan.

As a result, the Kenya Rugby Union has adjusted its' top tier competition, the Kenya Cup which kicked off on Saturday, November 25 to a one off format to allow more time for the Simbas to prepare for the qualifiers.

Rugby Africa Gold Cup Fixtures

June 16, 2018: Zimbabwe v Morocco, Namibia v Uganda; June 23: Namibia v Tunisia, Morocco v Kenya; July 7: Kenya v Uganda, Morocco v Namibia; August 4: Uganda v Tunisia, Zimbabwe v Namibia; August 11: Uganda v Morocco, Kenya v Tunisia; August 18: Uganda v Zimbabwe, Namibia v Kenya, Tunisia v Morocco. 


Additional reporting by World Rugby and KRU