The stone the builders rejected

By the punter
May 05, 2021
  • Humphrey Kayange trained for two days before being called in as a late substitution for Philip Wamae who was injured during the last training session.

“The stone which the builders rejected became the capstone” For two days, Humphrey Kayange went to the Kenya Sevens training sessions just to have a run and break some sweat.

May be his contribution was to share his experience and impart words of advice to the Glasgow Sevens-bound team. He even went to the team's bonding and tried his hand in golf!

But, things rapidly changed and Kayange who had barely landed in the country from his base in Bristol University was asked to pack up his bags and be ready to fly to Glasgow. This was because Philip Wamae, one of the players selected sustained an injury during the last training session on Saturday, just two days before the team left for the UK.

As expected, social media went on overdrive that claiming Wamae had been prevailed upon to step aside for the former captain. But, authoritatively confirmed Wamae fell awkwardly during the Saturday training session.

A meeting by the technical bench made a decision to call Kayange. He was barely fit and had added on some extra weight. The gamble paid off in Glasgow where Kayange emerged as one of the top scorers with six tries. He was at the heart of every Kenya try in Glasgow.

The chemistry between Kayange and his younger brother Collins Injera who was captaining the team was evident. Injera was deployed back to his familiar winger position after playing at scrum-half and fly half this season as well as assuming kicking duties.

So, apart from Kayange’s inclusion, what else was key to Kenya’s inspiring performance. Paul Treu put it down to luck. Rugby commentators have been cautious about writing off Kenya and often said it depends on which Kenya team turned up on the day.

Hush conference

Well, there was a small twist to the story. Before the Glasgow trip, authoritatively learned there was a ‘hush’ conference between the senior players and Treu where they voiced their concerns about Kenya’s dissapointing performance in the Series.

One of the key issues was that Kenyan players were not freely expressing themselves and there was a need to revert back to the “Kenyan” game. None of the players we talked to denied this development and just said it was normal for the players and technical bench to meet.

Perhaps this is how Felix Ayange and Michael Wanjala found their way back in the team after Treu tried to make a scrum-half out of Injera.In Glasgow, Injera was at wing and the absence of Andrew Amonde, Oscar Ouma and Daniel Sikuta saw the coach improvise with Dennis Ombachi brought in as a forward.

Luck was on Kenya’s side on Saturday after they qualified by the slimmest of margins after tying on points with Wales and Argentina. Kenya needed to beat Argentina by five points and the Pumas needed to lose by the same margin to qualify.

In a thumping performance, Kenya breezed past the Pumas to qualify and drew Canada in the quarter finals of the main cup on the second day. Canada, finalists in Glasgow won this gritty match played in slippery conditions relegating Kenya to the Plate where they faced South Africa in an African derby.

Some would have called this a straight tussle between Player and coach or student and teacher. Paul Treu was coach of Neil Powell, the current coach. Powell was also Treu’s assistant. It was not the first time the two faced off only that this time, Treu recorded his first win over South Africa.

Flash in the pan?

Could this be a flash in the pan or Treu has struck the right balance he was talking about when he was appointed? At least, reaching the Plate final in Glasgow has eased some of the pressure which is why he spoke about the Kenyan fans at half time when Kenya led Fiji in the Pool C match.

By reaching the Plate final, Kenya collected 12 crucial points and climbed two places up to the seventh position in the standing. New Zealand who needed to reach the final of the last two tournaments to clinch their 12th title lead the Seies.

Their charge to the Series title was helped by Kenya's win over South Africa. Only unexpected circumstances could deny them the overall title.

The penultimate round is in London this weekend and Kenya has been drawn in Pool B with Canada, Samoa and USA.

Glasgow Sevens day two results

Cup quarter final: New Zealand 19 Australia 7, Fiji 14 England 12, Scotland 12 South Africa 7, Canada 14 Kenya 5; Semi-final: New Zealand 19 Fiji 14, Scotland 7 Canada 10; Final: New Zealand 54 Canada 7.

Play-off: Fiji 17 Scotland 10.

Plate semi-final: Australia 7 England 21; South Africa 7 Kenya 14; Final: England 26 Kenya 5.

Bowl quarter final: Samoa 31 USA 12, Argentina 35 Japan 7, Spain 24 Portugal 14, France 21 Wales 7; Semi final: Samoa 12 Argentina 29, Spain 0 France 24; Final: Argentina 14 France 20.

Shield semi-final: USA 14 Japan 19, Portugal 7 Wales 38; Final: Japan 12 Wales 29.

Top scorers in Glasgow: Samisoni Viriviri 8, Julien Candelon (France), Justin Geduld (South Africa), Ben Lam (New Zealand), Luke Morgan (Wales) 6 each, Humphrey Kayange (Kenya) 5.

Current standings: New Zealand 158, South Africa 139, Fiji 129, England 117, Australia 97, Canada 82, Kenya 72, Samoa 69, Argentina 68, Scotland 60, Wales 60, France 58, USA 38, Portugal 25, Spain 15, Japan 7, Tonga 2.

London Sevens draw;  Pool A: New Zealand, England, Argentina, Wales; Pool B: Canada, Kenya, Samoa, USA; Pool C: Fiji, Australia, Spain, Japan; Pool D: Scotland, South Africa, France, Portugal.