What Next For Kenya Rugby?
That we are witnessing one of the lowest moments in Kenya rugby’s recent history is probably clear for all.
Our Sevens team just came back from the opening two legs of the World series, with no wins in Dubai and two from Capetown. While much has been said about the coach and his selection, in the conditions he is operating in, even the greatest of coaches would have returned almost similar results.
Our Fifteens side came back from a global flogging in a World cup qualifying campaign that was doomed to fail, six months before it started. We are currently ranked 32nd, the lowest we have been since 2015. (When we were ranked 31st in January)
We are fresh from one of the worst attended Safari 7s tournaments probably since the turn of the century, even after the tournament’s return ‘home.’
The only positives from the last year or so have been the improvements in the women’s game, where despite the Lionesses losing all their games in their maiden appearance at the world series, they did show a great improvement in play.
The other plus could be drawn from our under 19 side, the Chipu who are slowly but surely narrowing the gap between them and Namibia, as was evidenced in this year’s U20 Barthes Cup.
The Kenya Cup also secured a lucrative TV deal that will see clubs get prize money based on their league position at the end of the league, which is a great thing.
We could sit here and list our endless problems, we all seem to have exceptional talent in pointing out where our problems are and then going round in finger pointing parades and ego contests that do little in helping. This is not the intention of this article.
So what currently ails us? Our problems can be summarised in two words, resources and management (not to be confused with management of resources), we seem to lack the two in almost equal measure.
These two are like bedfellows, you can’t have one without the other. Especially with our sport, in a third world country, where sports in general is viewed as a pass time.
Ours is a resource demanding sport, not like the others where you can simply wake up one day, put on boots, buy a few accessories and Boom! You are a star.
Resources here simply mean money, we need money to hire the best coaches for our national teams, money to contract the best players in the country. Money to hire development officers who will take and introduce the sport around the country at an early age. Money, to keep all these programs running effectively.
So, who is the sports biggest source of resources? Yes, sponsors, stakeholders and closely followed by you, the fan. Hold on to that thought for a minute.
While most will quickly shout, THE BOARD! It is way more than the board, while the buck does stop at the board and chairman, we have other key stakeholders involved.
The structure of the Union is based on member clubs, whose leadership eventually end up electing the board members who govern the sport on behalf of said clubs, so in essence the management is the clubs.
So where did the rain start beating us?
Simply put, when the management seemingly started taking
their biggest source of resources, for granted , which simply meant that the sport eventually suffered, the results of which we are witnessing right now.
So, What Next?
The good news is, we are basically at bare minimum, it probably won’t get any worse, unless of course we let it!
With sponsors quickly losing faith in the management of the sport we have one BIG opportunity to help salvage that image. The coming elections in March 2019, where members will elect a new chairman and three directors.
In line with the Sports act, the new office bearers will hold office for the next four years, to put it into perspective, the next time these seats will be up for grabs will be after the 2022 General elections!
Our respective club officials have a big choice on their hands and will literally have the future of the sport in their hands come that fateful Wednesday evening.
It is my hope that our club officials will put their personal ‘Nyama, Whiskey, brown envelope and tour’ wants to the side and elect competent and reputable officials who can finally bring back sanity and the confidence from our biggest investors.
Until then, as fans we can start taking action, by becoming members of our respective clubs and having an actual say, other than our usual rants on Twitter and Rugby Banter HQ. We need to keep reminding the club officials of their responsibility come March.
Finally, I am confident that we shall weather this storm, we are a resilient, intelligent sport. Hatuna otherwise!