Sports CS Echesa's midwifing role brings normalcy in Kenya Sevens camp

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Wednesday, June 27th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby

Kenya Sevens Captain Andrew Amonde with his colleagues on arrival at Jommo Kenyatta International Airport from Tokyo Sevens, the seventh round of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens in Japan [Photo/ Jonah Onyango].

National Sevens rugby team players were ready to quit after their head coach Innocent 'Namcos' Simiyu was given marching orders.

It was a tense moment. No one had seen it coming, no less than the players. Their man, who had guided them to their best heights in IRB world rankings (104 points), was hounded out in quite unceremonious manner.

"We had already made up our minds. I am not sure if any of the players was ready to go to the World Cup without him (Innocent Simiyu)," said former Kenya Sevens rugby team captain Andrew Amonde after reinstatement ofas national team coach.

I think we could have let the Union  pick other guys to go to USA," those were the words of former  

The national team players, who had boycotted training on Thursday over pay dispute are expected to return to training at RFUEA Grounds today, 24 days to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, USA (July 20-22).

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But the good news that was warmly welcomed by many in the rugby circles is the return of Namcos to the team thanks to Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa's midwifing role after a twin fruitful meeting with Kenya Rugby Union officials and players at his Kencom House office on Monday.

"Having him back is some of the requests we made with the CS on Monday. It is good boost to see him back because we had already made our goal's plans and there are things we are working on," Amonde told The Standard Sports.

"The briefing that we had with the CS worked out a little bit. The ball now is in our court to go back to training, prepare well and be able to perform. We have now gotten new energy as we resume training tomorrow's (Wednesday)."

The former national sevens and fifteens teams captains was reinstated barely four days after he had been sacked by the Union over the Paris Sevens fiasco on June 9-10.

Simiyu had taken full responsibility for the Paris debacle that saw the playing unit blank out Brand Kenya's 'Make it Kenya' logo in the final leg of the 2017/2018 World Sevens at the Jean Bouin stadium.

What followed was the cancellation of the Sh20 million Brand Kenya sponsorship deal with KRU by the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala citing breach of contract.

But after Monday's closed-door meetings between Echesa and players in the morning followed by the CS's meeting with KRU officials in the evening at the Sports Ministry headquarters, Echesa directed the Union to reinstate Simiyu, whose contract expires in October.

"We put our points out and told him what led us to what happened in Paris..We were not majorly dealing with what happened but trying to find out a solution and way forward. He promised to assist in many issues affecting the team," underlined Amonde.

Reflecting on Simiyu's firing last week, the Kenya Commercial Bank  flanker said: "The hardest thing was, how do we run a program without the person who started it and knows how to run it.

"Running it without the person who really pioneered it was like setting a stage for failure.I think that was the biggest call that we had to make; either we were to go to that World cup without him or with him."

However, despite Simiyu's reinstatement, KRU Development Director Oscar Mango says they are still waiting for the coach's apology letter before issuing a comprehensive statement.

"It was a free and interructive meeting, not stormy the way people are saying. He had our side of story and talked to Namcos as well, who accepted to write an apology. Once we get his apology, we will respond to it through a statement," said Mango.

"The CS promised to engage his Tourism counterpart over the Brand Kenya sponsorship deal."

Echesa further vowed to work with KRU on pending payments of the players salaries and allowances, but urged the Union to consult with the Ministry before making such key decisions in future.