KRU: A house divided?

By francis marangu
Sep 30, 2021
  • KRU Chairman Mwangi Muthee.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

Contradictory statements issued separately by Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Mwangi Muthee and Honorary Secretary Eddie Omondi over the union’s assessment of the just-concluded Safaricom Sevens have crowded an otherwise successfully organized event.

Their divergent stands clearly shows the union had been operating on a disjointed foundation despite public show of unity.

On Monday, Muthee issued a “thank you” statement appreciating everybody who made the tournament successful (media was conspicuously missing).

He specifically thanked KRU board members “who played their crucial roles” but Omondi has since distanced the board from the statement.

In a rejoinder on Tuesday, the secretary said; “As the Hon. Secretary of the Kenya Rugby Union, I wish to clarify that the Board of the Union has not met or deliberated any matter related to the 2014 Safaricom Sevens,” the short statement read.

“As such, the statement issued by the Chairman, is made in his individual capacity and not on behalf of the Board of the Kenya Rugby Union.The Board of the Union shall duly issue a statement once it has met over the matter.”

The contradiction is the least that could be expected to come from the union’s ranks.

Government calls for truce 

The visible cracks within the union is one thing that captured the attention of Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch who called for a truce.

“The few wrangles and disagreements that preceded the tournament could have been a contributing factor. We urge KRU to look at what the players have raised and single out what is justified. It is their responsibility to guide the players since they are the single most important stakeholder in sports.”

Muthee put the fan attendance at roughly 35,000 on Saturday and almost 20,000 on Sunday but it was clear the numbers were not satisfactory.

The high charges and advance sales contributed heavily as well as poor showing by Kenya especially on Sunday when a handful turned out.

A cross-section of fans who sportsnewsarena.com spoke to attriubuted the poor turnout to the far location of the venue from the city center.

Why the poor turn out 

Even though some called for a shift back to Nyayo National Stadium, the advanced facilities at the Kasarani Stadium and quality playing surface makes it the best option for such an international event.

The absence of big names like Collins Injera and Biko Adema watered down the competitive nature and glamour of the tournament.

It was all visible on the pitch as the talented and enterprising young Kenyans failed to rise up against the experience of eventual winners Welsh Warriors and losing finalist Argentina who had the entire core team.

On the positive end, young players like Bush Mwale who won the schools category with Western in 2012 and was dropped from the national team in the last minutes last year (he was preparing to sit for KCSE exams) got the chance to impress.

He was one of the few players who got enough playtime starting in all Shujaa matches and could earn his full international debut at Gold Coast.

Alex Olaba was the least used players for Shujaa but impressed in his maiden start against Simba Saba in Plate semi final scoring a try as well as fellow youngsters Brian Wandera and Michael Wanjala.

Captain Andrew Amonde who defied the senior players strike led from the front with Fabian Olando coming off the bench severally to turn fortunes Shujaa way.

Max Theuri (Shujaa) and Adrian Opondo (Simba Saba) were two players who injuries could have denied the opportunity to impress.

Safaricom on the receiving end 

Official sponsors Safaricom was on the receiving end from fans and sponsors who had hoped to capitalize on the final day rush.

The entertainment village was closed down immediately the final match between Argentina and Welsh Warriors was over.

East Africa Breweries Limited who had pitched tent inside the village was among the notable sponsor not happy with the directive that came as a surprise. It was a replica of Saturday night when many fans were locked out of the venue.

Nzioka Waita, the Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs, later clarified through his twitter account that it was aimed at ensuring safety of the fans.

Safaricom, CAR pleased with secuirty 

“We Safaricom Ltd make no apologies for putting public safety above all other interests at the just concluded Safaricom 7s. It is a fine balance between fun, the fans & great rugby. 

Over 40,000 fans at the event over the 3 days. Every one felt safe!” Daniel Gilbert, Vice President of the Confederation of African Rugby, was the notable high-profile guest who graced the tournament after a snub from IRB.

Sportsnewsarena.com reliably established that the presence of IRB officials would have been seen to endorse Kenya’s bid to host a leg of the world series.

But speaking to the press, Gilbert had kind words for Kenya’s bid comparing the tournament’s good organization to only South Africa in the continent.

“From my personal view, they are in a position to host it. Unfortunately, it’s not my decision because there are many other factors considering it is not only Kenya bidding,” he said.

“If I was asked by IRB tomorrow if Kenya is ready to do it, my word would definitely go to Kenya.”

The presence of senior teams like Argentina,, Germany and Spain as well as elite players like England Sevens captain Matt Turner and New Zealand’s Rocky Khan was definitely a key endorsement for Kenya’s bid.