Why Shujaa should build on depth from national 7s series

John Mbugua (left) Top Fry Nakuru RFC battles with Menengai Oilers players during the Kenya Cup Match played at Nakuru Athletics Club on February 26,2022.[Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The 2022 National Sevens Circuit ended last Sunday with a constellation of promising talents emerging even as clubs shift focus to the upcoming 2022-2023 Kenya Cup season.

From Masinde Muliro University to Daystar Falcons, Top Fry Nakuru to Mwamba, Kabras Sugar to Menengai Oilers; this year’s sevens circuit showcased latent talents in our midst.

A majority of Kenyans are familiar with the regular international stars in Jacob Ojee, Vincent Onyala, Daniel Taabu and many others who lit up the circuit.

However, new stars were born in this year’s sevens season that saw the likes of Oilers duo of Dennis Abuke and Steve Arunga alongside Brunson Madigu of Strathmore University and Patrick Odongo of Daystar Falcons emerges and delivered stunning performances not witnessed in the national team in the recent past.

For this reason, Kenya Sevens should utilise these new talents. Shujaa are a pale shadow of themselves with dismal showing at the world stage just from the beginning of the year.

Currently one of the 15 “core teams” of the World Series and with a guaranteed place in the 10 events each season, rugby enthusiasts expected Kenya to compete for titles alongside Argentina, Fiji, South Africa and Australia, who are considered the spiritual homes of rugby sevens on the globe.

But Shujaa has been reduced to whipping boys who are always bullied and thrashed with teams that Kenya predominantly used to beat.

Since the beginning of the year, Kenya has not gone past the group stage after poor results in Malaga, Seville, Singapore, Vancouver, Toulouse and London.

Even the change of guard at Shujaa has done nothing to improve the performance of the team as the squad.

Should new Shujaa coach Damian McGrath give chance to raw talent? Yes.

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Oduor Gangla lauded the national sevens event which he said was of top notch quality that saw a lot of young promising players shinning.

“It has been a special circuit that surprised me in terms of quality taking into account that we have not had the circuit for the past two years due to Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Right from the first tournament at Kabeberi through to Dala and now Kakamega, the quality of rugby has been very good. We have seen a lot of young players come through and the quality of matches have improved as teams are playing with Kenyan flair.”

“Furthermore, we have had six winners which has never happened before. This shows how competitive and the hunger the young players have. We have made a step towards going the sevens rugby,” said Gangla after awarding Kabras Sugar the Kakamega Sevens title.

Strathmore and Oilers dominated the team of the circuit with two players each in the list of top performing players.

Oilers duo of Dennis Abuke and Steve Arunga alongside Brunson Madigu and George Ooro of Strathmore Leos lead the list alongside Patrick Odongo of Daystar Falcons, Harmony Wamalwa of Homeboyz and Eliakim Kichoi of Mwamba.

Kabras Sugar became the sixth different winner in this year’s circuit after winning the Kakamega Sevens on Sunday.

Oilers won the Prinsloo Sevens in Nakuru last week while KCB won the first leg of the circuit, the Kabeberi Sevens.basa, Strathmore Leos bagged Christie Sevens while Homeboyz were winners at Dala Sevens.

 

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