- Training boycott set stage for rather poor show by Kenya Sevens on the World Series stage as, locally, Kabras Sugar showed consistency to deservedly win National Sevens Series.
- KCB’s international fullback claims most individual points scored in Kenya Cup, captains Kenya Simba with distinction even though going was tough for side.
The 2016/2017 season saw the country’s national teams register mixed results in their international assignments.
It’s time for Kenya Rugby Union, Kenya Sevens team Shujaa and Kenya Simbas to look back and take stock of their achievements and failures heading into a crucial 2017/2018 season.
Besides the Sevens Series that has 10 legs, Shujaa will also be preparing for Commonwealth Games due April 4-15 in Gold Coast Australia and the Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place from July 20-22 in San Francisco, USA.
The Simbas are faced with the 2019 Japan World Cup qualifiers staring in June where they will tackle Morocco, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tunisia and Namibia.
Under their new coach Innocent Simiyu, Shujaa finished 12th overall with 63 points in the 20016/2017 World Rugby Sevens Series following one of their worst performances that saw them finish last at Paris Sevens.
The Simbas finished the season ranked 30th in the world after they settled for second place in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, losing the battle to Namibia for the second consecutive time.
Perhaps the only good show was when Simbas reclaimed the Elgon Cup from Uganda Cranes but finished the season on a low, finishing last at the Four Nation Hong Kong Cup in November. Simbas lost their test matches against Germany and Hong Kong in Nairobi.
Locally, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) were unstoppable as they claimed all the three major rugby 15s titles; Kenya Cup league, regional Enterprise Cup and Impala Floodlit under coach Curtis Olago.
Kabras Sugar waylaid all opposition to win the National Sevens Series title under their new coach Charles Cardovillis.
Kenya Lionesses once again played second fiddle to South Africa, finishing second in the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens but did enough to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
Shujaa had a shaky pre-season that was dominated by grumbling with Simiyu taking over from Benjamin Ayimba as head coach.
Some Shujaa players refused to train while others went on a go-slow over contracts, a development that saw key players missing out in the two opening legs.
World Rugby Sevens Series all-time leading try scorer Collins Injera, Oscar Ouma, Oscar Ayodi, Bush Mwale and Sammy Oliech failed to travel for the legs one and two of Dubai and Cape Town respectively. They were excluded owing to discipline issues after they went on strike over outstanding bonuses, form or discipline issues.
The players agreed to resume training only after the government and Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) agreed to jointly pay them outstanding match bonuses amounting to Sh23 million.
The season proved turbulent for Shujaa. They reach only two Cup quarter-finals in Cape Town and Singapore where they were the defending champions.
Shujaa had made history in 2015/2016 season when they won their maiden leg in the Series in Singapore.
Senior players, who had been axed, were recalled but that failed to spur Shujaa and the in fact posted their worst show in Paris. In that French capital city, they finished last to get one point only.
That horror show came after Sydney Sevens where they got two points after losing in the 13th place play-off.
Kenya Simbas had a lukewarm season even though they got to reclaim the Elgon Cup from Uganda Cranes besides finishing second for the second successive season behind Namibia in the Rugby Africa Cup, now Gold Cup.
Simbas campaign started on the low as Kenyan fans suffered a heartbreak when Germany fly-half Chris Hilsenbeck curled over a drop goal in the last kick of play to lead the visiting Europeans to 30-29 victory over Kenya Simbas in a Test match at the RFUEA grounds on May 27.