Club coaches cagey before Prinsloo 7's

By the punter
Aug 28, 2021
  • Dennis Ombachi and Michael Agevi could be available for Mwamba at Prinsloo Sevens in Nakuru.

Ask any of the coaches for the top six or seven teams in the Kenya Rugby Union National Sevens Circuit about their chances at Prinsloo Sevens in Nakuru this weekend and you will get almost the same answer.

Whether this is by design, a meeting of thoughts or the circuit epitomises the tough competition is not clear.

The coaches could just be playing mind games or being diplomatic by resorting to what appears to be well rehearsed answers or the Circuit is indeed tough and unpredictable.

What has become a cliche is tough, competitive or unpredictable when asked about the past three tournaments.

When put on the spot to predict their chances in Nakuru, the coaches resort to the same answer of playing one match at a time adding lessons were learned from the last tournament and they have been working on the mistakes.

So why bother talk to the coaches when you may get almost the same answer? It is because they hold the aces.

Take for example the win by Mwamba at Driftwood Sevens. It was the third time a different team has won the Circuit this season. Mwamba barely made it to their first match against Comras after their flight was delayed.

The Black Shirts had lady luck on their side after being let off by Strathmore University in the semi-finals. John Mbai, the Mwamba coach declines to have a favorite tag in Nakuru and instead says the draw is balanced and competitive across all pools.

Then, he reverts to taking it one game at a time and reinforcing the core skills and decision making. Michael Agevi who missed Driftwood Sevens is available.

Small gap among top teams

Mbai is even more cautious explaining what has worked for them is everyone gaining a better understanding of their functional roles and improving on their execution.  He notes: “There is little to separate the top eight. On the day, I think it comes down to tactics and the mental frame of the teams.”

Gibson Weru, the Nakuru RFC captain admits they have a favorable draw compared to Mombasa. “Impala and Blak Blad are very competitive so it will be interesting. Out aim is to top the pool,” he admits.

The sending off of Nick Oyoo in Mombasa still remains a talking point with Weru arguing it would have been more competitive if they were at full strength. “Being one player less affected the concentration of my players,” Weru stated.

Nakuru have been working on the team’s defense and sharpening the attack. His formula to a good performance in the three tournaments is hard work and dedication by the players. “But most importantly, self belief.” The coach set high standards for Nakuru to reach the podium in every tournament.

Patrice Agunda, the Kenya Harlequin FC captain falls into the same talk saying they will take it one game at a time in Prinsloo Sevens. “We aim to create more phase play and our defensive system,” Agunda explains.

He admitted Quins made too many mistakes in Mombasa and could not sustain a consistent phase play.

Nick Abok, the Impala coach hopes they can top their pool on Saturday but predicts one of the top teams will drop points and fall off the title race. Brian Nyikuli returned to bolster the side. “Playing against the hosts is tough.”

The coach also identified some flaws on his side. “We haven’t done something good and I must admit the pressure is on Nakuru to perform. We won’t shy away from the pressure and can do better. It is only us who must find a solution to unlock our potential.” Robert Aringo also returns to the Impala lineup after the completion of national 15’s assignments.

Circuit not easy

Paul Murunga whose team Homeboyz surrendered the Driftwood Sevens trophy to Mwamba in Mombasa just said the circuit is not easy. “We made mistakes in Mombasa and have been working on them. Team work will see us go far,” Murunga stated.

The coach noted the gap between the top seven teams was not much and in Nakuru, the competition will be much tougher.

Strathmore University were on the verge of reaching their first final this season but were subdued by a ‘lucky’ Mwamba in the semi-final. Mitch Ocholla, the Strathmore coach says the race is still open and Nakuru will be interesting.

“The stage is set. Pressure is on. Teams have to simply perform,” warns Ocholla. He predicts there could be a different winner in Nakuru because the circuit is as competitive as was predicted.

The former Kenya Sevens coach believes Strathmore have an arithmetical chance of winning the overall trophy. “We are working towards the inevitable and thus far the elusive leg win,” the coach stated.

LIke the other coaches, Ocholla thinks any of the top five or even seven teams have an arithmetical chance of winning the circuit.

Prinsloo Sevens draw

Pool A: Mwamba, Western Bulls, Kabras Sugar, MKU Thika; Pool B: Nakuru, Impala, Blak Blad, Makueni; Pool C: Strathmore, Kenya Harlequin FC, Catholic University, Kisumu; Pool D: Homeboyz, KCB, Kisii, Nondies.

Division II

Pool E: Daystar, Stormers, Egerton, Nakuru II; Pool F: Comras, Dedan Kimathi, JKUAT, Eastlanders; Pool G: TUK, Bungoma, Eldoret, Kericho; Pool H: Brumbies, KCA, Masinde Muliro, Sharks; Pool I: Masaku, MKU Nairobi, Kiambu, KPA Eldoret; Pool J: Mombasa, Mean Machine, Moi University, Molo.

Order of play

Mwamba v Kabras (10 a.m.), Western Bulls v MKU Thika (10.18), Nakuru v Blak Blad (10.36), Impala v Makueni (10.54), Strathmore v Catholic University (11.12), Quins v Kisumu (11.30, Homeboyz v MKU Thika (11.48), KCB v Nondies (12.06), Mwamba v MKU Thika (12.24), Western Bulls v Kabras Sugar (12.42), Nakuru v Makueni (1.00), Impala v Blak Blad (1.18), Strathmore v Kisumu (1.36), Quins v Catholic University (1.54), Homeboyz v Nondies (2.12), KCB v Kisii (2.30), Kabras v MKU Thika (3.06), Blak Blad v Makueni (3.24), Catholic University v Kisumu (3.42), Kisii v Nondies (4.00), Mwamba v Western Bulls (4.18), Nakuru v Impala (4.36), Strathmore v Quins 4.54), Homeboyz v KCB (5.12).