Club coaches welcome an expanded national 7's circuit

By francis marangu
Jun 08, 2021
  • Curtis Olago downplayed the expected high-altitude conditions in Nanyuki saying local players are able to adapt to different climatic conditions.

  • Dominique Habimana left Nakuru who are now being coached by Enos Otieno.

Clubs are expected to employ a different approach at this year's Kenya Rugby Union National Sevens Circuit that begins with Prinsloo Sevens on the weekend of August 6-7.

On Wednesday, KRU announced the circuit will be expanded to six legs by accommodating Nanyuki as the new venue. It will be the final leg to be hosted at Nanyuki Sports Club from September 17-18.

The inclusion of Nanyuki is in line with expansion of the game to non-traditional rugby playing regions. It will be a big boost to Central region which has been picking up and is home to Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) which was a top performer in the concluded Nationwide League.

In 2013, the town hosted an inaugural Mount Kenya 10’s won by Blak Blad. Thika RFC which played in Kenya Cup also come from the region.

Coaches from top Kenya Cup clubs have welcomed the inclusion noting it will change the dynamics in many ways. “It's going to be tough. This now means that a club can win the first two legs and still drop down and fail to win the circuit,” Curtis Olago, the Kenya Commercial Bank RFC head coach remarked.

He downplayed the expected high-altitude conditions in Nanyuki saying local players are able to adapt to different climatic conditions. “The only concern is that there will be no enough rest since we are coming from another long and tough fifteens season. Not only players who need to rest but also coaches.”

Nakuru’s Enos Otieno equally predicted a competitive season with the additional leg. “Look at the World Series, they are now ten legs and it gets competitive with every leg. This is a positive move and I am sure teams will be better with an extra leg to play for.”

Strathmore University’s Mitch Ocholla said the new leg will come with additional pressure and challenges to both coaches and players. “It will bring some logistical issues because of having a larger pool of players and player management,” he told Sports News Arena.

More exposure to 7's rugby

On the competitive aspect, Ocholla noted there will be more exposure to sevens rugby. “It keeps to the spirit of expanding the sport. But, it will be a challenge to many players because they will be fatigued and the way a coach manages them will make a big difference.”

After Prinsloo, the series will head to Nairobi for Kabeberi Sevens on August 13-14 and then Mombasa for Driftwood Sevens on August 20-21.

After a weekend break, the series will resume on September 3-4 with Dala Sevens in Kisumu taking centre stage before heading to the penultimate leg in Nairobi for Christie Sevens from September 10-11.

This development comes in the wake of KRU releasing new guidelines for clubs to host rugby tournaments across the country. The guidelines are aimed at standardizing tournaments most of which have not been sanctioned in the past.

Previously, there have been reports of tournaments ending prematurely and in others players left stranded after organizers failed to meet their end of bargain.

Other tournaments organized by clubs have clashed with those organized by KRU but the Union is now intent on bringing back order to the rugby scene.

One of the notable requirement is for organizers to submit sanction application at least three months in advance of any planned event.

“The sanction is also a contract, which evidences the event's commitment to follow national and international rules, to ensure all participants are compliant with Kenya Rugby's rules and regulations and to provide a safe environment for the participants and spectators,” the guidelines read in part.

Once the event has satisfied the sanction requirements, the event's application for sanction is approved.

Masaku Sevens, one of the popular annual rugby events has already been launched and will be held from July 8-10 at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. It will be under high scrutiny to ensure organizers meet the new guidelines more so concerning security.

2016 KRU National Sevens Circuit

First Leg: Prinsloo Sevens, Nakuru Athletic Club, Nakuru - August 6-7; Second Leg: Kabeberi Sevens, RFUEA ground, Nairobi - August 13-14; Third Leg: Driftwood Sevens, Mombasa Sports Club, Mombasa - August 20-21; Fourth Leg: Dala Sevens, Mamboleo Showground, Kisumu - September 3-4; Fifth Leg: Christie Sevens, RFUEA ground, Nairobi - September 10-11; Sixth Leg: Nanyuki Sevens, Nanyuki Sports Club - September 17-18.