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TOP FRY’S DEBACLE: Why defending champions failed to retain Sevens series title

RUGBY By Ben Ahenda | September 21st 2016
Nakuru Top Fry's Geoffrey Omondin and KCB's Phillip Wamae, left, during the annual George Mwangi Kabeberi Memorial 2015 at RFU Grounds on Saturday, Sept 5, 2015. PHOTO/ JONAH ONYANGO.

The exit of key players and lack of match fitness contributed to the dismal performance of former champions Top Fry Nakuru RFC in the National Sevens Circuit championships that came to an end at the Rugby Football Union of East African (RFUEA) grounds in Nairobi over the weekend.

The team finished in an unfamiliar seventh position with 42 points as Menengai Cream Homeboyz shocked the flock to bag their maiden National Sevens Circuit title with an unassailable 129 points.

Head coach Enos Otieno said their failure to take part in the Masaku Sevens and Kakamega Tens Championships, which effectively denied them match fitness, was the main factor contributing to their poor performance.

“Our participation in the two tournaments could have given players much-needed impetus and confidence ahead of the tournament, which they lacked when it kicked off three weeks later. It affected our plan to retain the title or finish within the medal bracket,” Otieno told Feverpitch in an interview.

“The other factor was the departure of our key players at the end of last season,” he added.

The club lost the services of lock-cum-flanker Martin Owili who joined Kenya Commercial Bank while prop Joseph Odero moved to Kabras Sugar. Kelvin Omiyo shifted base to Impala RFC.

Owila secured a scholarship with a local university that necessitated his move to Nairobi while Odero and Omiyo sought greener pastures in their new clubs.

“Although we have lost the services of these key players, we have identified a number of talented youngsters who are ready to fit into their shoes,” Otieno pointed out.

Among the notable injuries the club has suffered is lock David Kivuti's torn groin mishap that has kept him out of the club for the past season, which also threatened his rugby career.

However, Kivuti has since recovered and the coach confirmed that he has started some light training with the team ahead of the Kenya Cup League that kicks off in November.

"That injury threatened his career but we are happy that he has since recovered and resumed training. He's expected to improve gradually before the season's kicks-off in the next eight weeks," said the tactician.

Other factors that could have contributed to the team's unremarkable performance are the departure of two coaches - former head coach Dominique Habimana and Sevens Coach Gibson Weru, who has since joined Menengai Oilers.

Habimana has been retained by Kenya Rugby Union as the deputy tactician for the National 15s side – The Simbas - under the tutelage of South African Jerome Paarwater.

In the meantime, the team’s technical bench has gone back to the drawing board to correct the past season’s mistakes, according to the coach.

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