Turmoil in Kenya Sevens team camp

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Friday, June 22nd 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

With 29 days to the Rugby World Cup in San Francisco, USA, the Kenya Sevens rugby team camp is in turmoil.

Shujaa have lost the Sh20m Brand Kenya sponsorship deal and the current team could be disbanded even as the players boycotted training yesterday due to one-month unpaid salary and allowances after a ten-day break.

All these happened in less than 24 hours following the national team’s embarrassing shirt sponsorship cock-up on June 9-10 in Paris barely a month after they had been appointed the country’s Brand Ambassadors.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala cancelled the sponsorship deal citing breach of contract.

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) boss Richard Omwela speaking to Standard Sports yesterday from Toronto, Canada threatened to overhaul the team ahead of the World Cup set for July 20-22 in San Francisco, USA.

“We will participate in the World Cup and it may not be with this team or the technical bench,” said Omwela.

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“It is sad indeed for the CS to cancel the sponsorship even when he knows that we are going through a disciplinary mechanism with those concerned and knows that we gave Kenya a huge exposure in London the weekend before. These are public funds and we accept that what the players did in Paris was wrong and should not be condoned. We will go through the discipline mechanism and take remedial action.”

The former Singapore 7s champions finished the 2017/2018 World Sevens Series season ranked eighth overall after attaining a historic 104 points- Kenya’s best ever performance in the competition.

However, the performance was marred by sponsorship row with the team competing in the final round of the season without the ‘Make it Kenya’ branded jerseys due to unpaid photo-shoot appearance fees. “We have cancelled the sponsorship with KRU because they breached the contract.

“They were supposed to put Brand Kenya on the jerseys in the Paris Sevens event, but the players blocked it because of the problems they were having with the Union.

“We sympathise with the players because they have done a great job but in this case we are dealing with the union. Why didn’t the Union pay them before they left?” Balala said on phone.

“So, I have told Brand Kenya to sit down with the players and see how they can be compensated for that, but we don’t want to work with the Union because they are the ones who created this problem.”

The players were not spared either as Balala lashed out at them for their unpatriotic behaviour.

“But we are also disappointed with the players themselves. When they blocked the ‘Make it Kenya’ brand, they were blocking the country. So, this culture of rebellion is impunity of the highest order and must stop,” he underlined.

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