What contributed to Kenya 7's dismal performance?

By the punter
Aug 22, 2017
  • Kenya were unable to consistently perform in the World Rugby Sevens World Series because of a myriad of problems. (Photo Courtesy)

It was only a matter of time before some details emerged about the Kenya 7's team performance in the 2016/17 World Rugby Sevens World Series.

There have been loud whispers within the rugby fraternity that the team's performance left a lot to be desired.

Key areas which raised eyebrows were consistency, decision making, ability to manage the game and basic schoolboy errors such as tackling, knockons and laxity in defense.

Equally worrying was the inability by the team to consistently reach the final eight in the 10 tournaments.

Did the players have the fire in their belly anymore or were they just happy to be 'touring'?

It was a false start when it took time to name a replacement to Benjamin Ayimba and Paul Murunga who were fired by KRU.

When Innocent Simiyu was named after a wildgoose chase of Sir. Gordon Tietjens, the reactions were mixed.

Sports News Arena has been investigating since May and talked to present and former players as well as team officials.

What could have contributed to Kenya's dismal performance?

Simiyu struggling as coach?

The composition of the technical bench and leadership lacked a solid base.

"Namcos needed someone who has been in the system to help him out... either a TM (sic) team manager, S&C (sic) strength and conditioning (sic) or even assistant coach from with in the set up," observed a senior player.

"He has been struggling the whole season as the game has changed... he still has the old school ideas when he used to play and the game has evolved...the players haven't learnt anything new under him as most of the players have been through Mike Friday, Paul Treu, Vuyo, Benja...

"Look at that calibre of coaches then put Namcos with no experience at all... he has a great rugby mind... but I think he can't apply it as a coach... he was a fantastic player... and I am sorry to say not all players can be coaches....I think he is best suited as an assistant coach....

"To make it worse he is given a TM (sic) who has no clue of anything but does'nt want to be helped... managing the national team as if he is managing a club..... guys might hide and say because we didnt have a proper conditioning phase before the season etc... yes conditioning is very important.. but did Benja have time for conditioning?

"He (Benja)knew how to put systems in play that suit the kind of players he had... which Namcos lacks," a former player observed.

Simiyu insists he is in full control of the team

In an interview with Simiyu in Las Vegas, the coach vehemently denied there was any outside interference. "I make all the decisions and it is not true that the names being floated around are my advisors," Simiyu clarified.

But, a former team official disagreed and alleged Simiyu regularly consulted with at least three named people who influenced the team naming, starting list, advising him who to play in which position and analysing the game from their couches.

This is despite the situation on the ground being different from what people see on TV. "These advisors did not know the build up during the week."

KRU interference and lack of support?

The KRU comes into the picture with contracts as one of the bones of contention.

"First they tell players they shall give them one year contract that will keep running... then when the season starts they give us six months contracts."

Again Simiyu reiterated this was not a true picture because there were clear guidelines on how the contracts were structured and each player had a chance to negotiate with the coach based on experience and performance. "This is the model by most rugby nations," Simiyu stated.

KRU are supposed to make it easy for the team to train but there are more lapses. A random inspection of the training venue found only one weight bar in the gym in good condition.

There is a shortage of training equipment too apart from markers/cones and balls. The training venue for the team is frequently changed because the RFUEA ground is often unvailable or is used by the tenant club.

Further allegations say the players lack medical insurance.

Minimal insurance could be obtained by enrolling the players in the NHIF. This has been done but Sports News Arena could not establish whether the deductions have been remmited by the KRU.

"Players need MRI's, X-rays, surgery... they cannot do as their NHIF'S cards are not up to date... players have to look for other alternatives thus dig in their pockets or go back to clubs for help for them to be able to do the procedures," our source stated.

The way forward...next