However changes in management after the 'lack of agreement' with former 7s coach Mike Friday meant the top brass at KRU sought solace elsewhere. Rumours had circulated that the honchos were after South Africa's Paul Treu and true to word he did sign dotted line. He also came with a couple of demands of inclusion of hand-picked personnel from his native country, which sponsors and officials alike obliged to.
Due to delays in finalising this agreement, the team started the series dismally and team selection also left a lot to be desired. This would hurt the team in the later stages too. Here are some other sticking points;
- Change of pace - The Kenyan team has been known to be a pacy team, taking advantage of the wings to run their plays. Change of tactics saw them adopt a slower game which took time to adopt.
- Conditioning - Mike Friday and his assistant though spending less time with the team than envisioned in the 2012/13 season had developed a serious conditioning regime. This saw them add mass and pace to their game.
- Rookies vs Experience - after making the gamble with new members of the team, Paul Treu had to go back to the more experienced hands. It took time for him to find the right mix of players and combinations.
- Pre-season games -while KRU has been trying to get better exposure for the team, a lot more needs to be done for pre-season preparations. Safari 7s is not enough to use for testing the players. A minimum of 3 such tournaments can be explored. Luckily this year is a Commonwealth Games year thus this will suffice for now.
- Competitive forces - while a few seasons ago, certain countries were more of pushovers, the level of competition has risen even for non-traditional rugby nations such as USA, Canada and even the Asian reps. Such oversights cost the team valuable points mid-season.
- Relegation - this form of dropping poor performers and gifting good ones has worked well to level the playing field. It is going to be interesting 2-3 seasons on when great rugby nations find themselves sharing spoils with more recent additions.
- Investment - while KRU has tried leveraging this sport to potential sponsors, more needs to be done to secure constant churn of players. From the current Chair's own words his objective is to ensure the players are professionals 'eating, sleeping and playing rugby'. A more competitive national 7s circuit in the coming years will see the team enjoy constant new talent. It must also work to invest in local coaching expertise to reduce over-reliance on foreign technical hands. The locals will have much less demands and hopefully play for the flag more than anything else.
Till the Commonwealth Games in September 2014, let's give them a hearty welcome for a brave performance in the last 2 legs hoping they take from there come the 2014/15 series!