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TOO MANY QUESTIONS, NO ANSWERS: Rugby family in mourning mood over three deaths in one week

Last updated 3 years ago | By John Lawrence

Kenya rugby seven coach Benjamin Ayimba and his mother Esther Ayimba hold each other as they cry at the jomo Kenyatta international Airport on 19th April, 2016. Kenya Rugby sevens had just arrived home from singapore after wining the HSBC world cup finals.Esther said she recalled Benjamin's child hood and how he's made it to the top.

One week, one game, two deaths, no answers. Is Kenyan Rugby falling apart?

Victor Wayodi, Mwamba Rugby Football Club’s dependable player died on Friday while receiving treatment at Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

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Wayodi collapsed on the pitch during their Kenya Cup match at Railways Club, Nairobi against Nakuru Rugby Football Club (RFC). The young talented player, who has previously featured in Kenya 15s National team, died on the day Nondescript RFC laid to rest Ogeto Gecheo.

Ogeto, just like Wayodi, was rushed to the hospital during a Kenya Cup match last weekend. Such is the tragedy that has seen Richard Omwela, Chairman Kenyan Rugby Union (KRU) call for suspension of all Kenya Cup matches until the Union “can find out what exactly is going on.”

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“I have asked my colleagues at the Union’s board to consider cancellation of all Kenya Cup matches until the end of the year so that we can really assess the situation and establish the root cause of the calamities,” said Omwela.

“Two deaths in one week, that is not acceptable by all standards. We must investigate, interrogate to find out what is going on before moving forward. I understand that it was a case of cardiac arrest, but we must establish if the two deaths were related or if the players had existing conditions,” added Omwela.

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VICTOR WAYODI-MWAMBA RFC PLAYER PASSES ON Barely a week after after death reared its ugly head on the rugby fraternity after loosing Ogeto Gecheo of Nondies RFC,Victor Wayodi has become its latest casualty.The Mwamba RFC scrum half collapsed on the pitch in a Kenya Cup fixture pitting them against Nakuru RFC after complaining of breathing problems before being rushed to the Nairobi womens hospital,where he succumbed to cardiac arrest late Saturday night.These are the images taken of his last game. PHOTO BY KEVIN MIDIGO

But what exactly happened on Saturday? According to Jason Rosario Brangaza, Mwamba’s Secretary General, it would be premature to blame Wayodi’s death on rugby. Jason said he was at Railways during the match and no one can actually explain what transpired.

“I was at Railways when we were playing against Nakuru, Victor was on the pitch, but he was not tackled. He just went down,” said Jason. “We had a qualified team doctor on the pitch yesterday and to the best of my knowledge, we did what we could to save him. Even the doctor himself is distraught over this matter and the players are also in a bad shape, I would appreciate if we wait until the situation changes.

“We have organised a meeting tomorrow (today) at the club to help them grieve, talk to each other just to understand all that is going on. We are also working on how to get some counselors just to talk to them  and to have additional medical expert to asses the situation.”

Whereas all clubs are expected to have a full time medical doctor attached to the playing unit, such a requirement remains a mirage.

But who would blame helpless Mwamba officials for Wayodi’s demise at a time when the club is literally struggling to stay afloat?

“Mwamba has struggled to raise salaries for the players. The death was a big blow to most of us. It is still a struggle really,” said a Mwamba player, who did not wish to be named.

“Wayodi’s death is a sting at the worst time for the club and we do not know if we will live to overcome this crisis. Instead, some of us have been told by our parents and relatives to stop playing and seek jobs elsewhere because this game no longer pays,” added the source.

FeverPitch has established that there are just a handful of rugby clubs in Kenya with a medical cover, but even the few who do, simply have general insurance without a prescribed sports related cover that would give them the required special treatment and approach to their health. Speaking to FeverPitch from Melbourne in Australia, Omwela said KRU has been hit by a number of deaths lately.

On the same day when Wayodi passed on, former Sevens Coach Benjamin Ayimba also lost his mother at Nairobi West Hospital.

According to Jason, Mwamba RFC are in talks with the family to establish an independent medical team so that they can unearth the truth behind Wayodi’s death.

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