• Las Vegas Breaks Away from Tradition in Rugby Sevens

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Feb 15, 2011-

Last Vegas! First, the quarterfinals of the main cup were played on the same day breaking away from a long tradition. It was the first time that this has happened. Reasons? Appease the broadcast partners! Then, red-hot England and New Zealand failed to make it to the final.

 Instead, South Africa ruled the roost by beating Fiji in the final. Again, the final was played earlier than usual possibly to appease the broadcasters again!

The Plate final between Kenya and Samoa was then played last. The tournament also could have set a new record for the yellow cards given to players. 

This is Vegas where they do things differently. Kenya, cheered by hundreds of fans picked eight valuable points, which increases their tally to 12. 

They are now placed ninth with 12 points as the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series reached the halfway mark. Injera is back to good form and top scored after two days of intense competition.

The winger scored 10 tries in Las Vegas. His elder brother Humphrey kayange had three tries. Three other Kenyan players were also in the top points scorers list, headlined by South Africa captain Cecil Africa. Injera was second while Lavin Asego and Kayange had 20 points each.

The power of the media forced the IRB to make a grievous mistake of scheduling four games on the opening day of the USA Sevens in Las Vegas.

An agreement with NBC for broadcasting rights saw the quarter final of the main cup competition played on the opening day.

That is four matches-for the top eight teams! This is the first time in the Series history and did not go well with some of the teams. The main complaint has been fatigue for the players, which increased chances of injury.

Felix Ochieng’ Kenya’s assistant captain acknowledged this fact after losing to England. “Personally, I feel that the model of a three-day which has been embraced Hong Kong for years should be encouraged and not move in another direction,” the former Kenya International said.

The same sentiments were shared by his captain Humphrey Kayange who said the day was long and they had one match too many. His argument was that there was need for recovery between games. 

The issue also came up during a meeting of managers, coaches and assistant coaches of the core teams in the IRB HSBC Sevens Series, held in Las Vegas before the tournament.

Because of the intensity of the tournament, the representatives from the core teams also asked the IRB for a change in the rules that allows teams to only use three substitutes.

Although Unions are not allowed to raise refereeing issues with the media, Kenya officials feel that there are some consistency issues when it comes to officiating. Without antagonizing the Kenya Rugby Union, Ochieng' gave a personal opinion. “Officiating is not going to be our focus,” he said.

The dust has not settled on a memorable USA Sevens in Las Vegas and Kenya is already planning for the next two legs in Australia and Hong Kong. Coach Benjamin Ayimba said there would only be minimal changes.


 Eric Odanga

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