KRU threaten to pull rugby teams out of World Cup ties

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Thursday, June 14th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

Kenya Sevens rugby national team could miss next month’s World Cup if Kenya Rugby Union make good their threat to withdraw national teams from international tournaments.

In a statement issued on Tuesday night, KRU said it might withdraw its squads from international assignments due to “lack of government’s financial support.”

The Sevens team, Shujaa, and Simbas (15s), will be the worst hit.

Shujaa are preparing for next month’s Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco, a tournament where they have reached Main Cup semis on two consecutive times; (2009 and 2013).

The Simbas are set to begin their 15s Rugby World Cup qualification process with an away match to Morocco on June 23. They also have four fixtures and training programs between now and August.

The Government has partially funded KRU’s annual budget of Sh124m (after giving Sh31m) and with the withdrawal of sponsors SportPesa, KRU chairman Richard Omwela says the union is contemplating the withdrawal of its teams from the competitions.

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In case both teams fail to participate in the competitions, Kenya risks a ban and possible sanctions by both World Rugby and Rugby Africa.

“Yes, we are on the rise but it will be Kenya facing the sanctions and not Omwela. The government needs to make up its mind. This is a risk we are trying to take; can we withdraw and get banned at an international level? It is actually the country and not Omwela,” Omwela told The Standard Sports.

“Without funding, withdrawing the teams from the competitions is the only option. Without a sponsor and government funding, we cannot afford it. What can we do yet there is no money to pay the players’ allowances as well as prepare them for those tournaments. We have the technical bench to take care of, but without money, we are planning to fail.”

However, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa assured the union of government’s support but bemoaned last weekend’s embarrassing sponsorship row between Kenya Sevens and Brand Kenya in Paris.

Shujaa competed in the final round of the 2017-2018 World Sevens Series without the ‘Make it Kenya’ branded jerseys due to unpaid photo-shoot appearance fee.

“There is nothing to worry about and they will not pull out. We are going to fully support them, but they should know as per the Sports Act 2013, it is not our (government) responsibility. Federations are independent and should pull up their socks,” said Echesa.

“I understand the players were paid their allowances and each was to receive Sh100,000 upon arrival from Paris.”

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