Friday, 25 May 2012

Kenya Rugby 7s - The Good, the Bad & the UGALI...

This weekend marked the final outing for the Kenyan Rugby 7s team in the 2011/12 IRB 7s circuit series. This season marked one of the worst outings the team has had in recent years. And though many would have loved for the team to make better showing this was not to be:
Willy Ambaka - Kenya Rugby not yet there...

The Good
First though, we commend the technical team managing the national team for ensuring that a wide array of players got exposed to the game this season. The team avoided last year's dilemma of rotating among a small pool of players and extended this to younger and upcoming ones.
Secondly, the corporate sponsors have practiced patience with the team which is a boon for Kenyan sport. Many a times when a team is on transition, corporate support becomes hard to come by but for this they have managed to keep up the monies - though we don't know for how long they will be patient with dismal performances...
Managing a transitional team is NOT the easiest thing and Mitch Ocholla & Charles Cardovillis have managed amidst a tough outing from the rest of the teams. The middle-tier level teams such as Canada, Portugal, Scotland, Wales and United States have all styled up and stepped up their game.

The Bad
The now-old Kenya Rugby Union office bearers elected last year came in with a lot of gusto much to the chagrin of rugby enthusiasts and managers of the game. Though there was need to infuse some new hands to play various roles in ensuring the 7s game progressed well, the 'rough' treatment accorded to the then technical bench led by Ben Ayimba was not good. The experiences they had were needed to ensure the team didn't start from scratch. They would have also come in handy with the team selection for the national team and a proper analysis done on each player after each tournament.
The fact that the officials came in trumpeting the fact that they would like to professionalize the 7s team, little has been done beyond the word-of-mouth. It would have served the Union officials better if they explained that they're working towards such a framework in a gradual process.

The Ugali
Though this was a tad bit exaggerated by the media, the issue of players' allowances and pay did come out. We don't know how far the Union has managed to work around this but it demotivates the players to find that their dues are not coming as it ought to.

The technical team at times seemed to be groping in the dark and out of depth in the team selection. It was never supposed to be like this for a team playing in its 9th year of the IRB 7s World Series.

Going forward though, KRU officials need to come to terms with the fact that there is need to infuse more professional and tactical abilities in the game at national and international level. There is also need to conduct continuous clinics around the country and within the residential camps to offer fresh talent and renew the abilities of existing players.
As for going professional, it is a medium to longer term effort which will need more resources not just in finances but also infrastructure; from playing fields, to feeder clubs from the national 7s circuit.
If Kenya hopes to restore its place in the top 10 of the IRB Sevens World Series, KRU officials the honeymoon was surely over a long time ago. Gird thy loins & work the magic NOW!

Friday 25th May and Kenya Rugby Union is reported to have disbanded the Kenya 7s team, both playing unit and the technical team. If these reports are true, then this IS NOT the way forward that we had recommended.
Also the intended hire of a foreign coach for the technical bench might not bode well for the game. We question why over 10 years of experience in the 7s game would not produce a localised solution to the management team.
A foreign coach, means more money, more time to understand the local scene and also less responsibility on his part in case the team doesn't perform at par. We all know what has happened to the cricket game, let's not repeat this in rugby PLEASE! 


Uncle said...

Mitch failed at his job, transitional team or not. Word is the new coach is a former England sevens man. Time to set the standards high!

The Figure said...

Mr. Uncle, the yardstick for measuring Mitch Ocholla & Co's success is rather short. One year you surely wouldn't expect miracles especially with such meagre resources & unco-ordinated Rugby Union.
True Mr. Friday might be an ex-7s player but we have seen what happened to the cricketers with the likes of Baptiste & Hesson.
Our take is that we still need homegrown coaches, who are in plenty. Foreigners can come in as consultants NOT substantive coaches!