It Is Sevens Season
It is once again that exciting time of year when things come in groups of seven and really don’t last that long.
That time when the slim margins of the game, become even slimmer and you don’t have to wait that long to see an upset. It is sevens season!
I’ll admit that this is not my favourite time of year, mainly because of the unpredictability that comes with sevens rugby, but at the same it is what makes sevens so exciting. We kick off this season from where we left the last, at the Christie Sevens.
Back to back series champions KCB headline the 36 team, 2 division tournament. The bankers with an early chance to erase their dismal showing here last year, where they failed to make the cup quarter finals eventually falling at the Bowl final on day 2.
Defending Christies champions Mwamba RFC will look to pick up from where they left last season, as they look to get back to the glory days.
These two will be among the hot favourites to lift the 51st edition of the Christie sevens on Sunday evening, alongside last year’s series runners up Menengai Cream Homeboyz, Nakuru, Impala, Strathmore and hosts Quins.
This year’s series is bound to be the most exciting yet, with up to 8 sides holding a realistic chance of picking up the overall title. With this many favourites, expect very little, if any, room for slip ups in the five leg series.
The Lions headline Pool A where they will square it out with Western Bulls, Nondies and Thika. It will be remembered that it was Nondies who beat KCB in the Bowl final last year. This was after KCB had beaten Western Bulls in the Bowl semi final. Thus, you could call this pool a ‘Bowl re-union’ of sorts.
It will be a real test of depth for Curtis Olago’s charges, KCB are set to miss a good number of their core players to the Simbas. That list of absentees reads Jacob Ojee, Darwin Mukidza, Fabian Olando and Oliver Mang’eni.
They should however have enough to navigate through this pool and make it to the cup competition, the Day 2 battle will be a whole different story. The battle for the second ticket to the cup in this pool will be a real exciting affair between the Bulls and Nondies.
Division two champions and recently promoted Kenya cup side Thika RFC should not be written off, as they sure do know how to claim a scalp.
After unveiling their 10 Million sponsorship, the Djs now Menengai Cream Homeboyz kick off this new phase in a very challenging Pool B, where they are joined by Impala, Kabras and Mean Machine. Pool of death maybe?
Homeboyz were within inches of lifting last year’s series title, falling off in Nakuru then failing to make it past the Cup quarter finals here. This year they’ll be out to kick off the new sevens season on a stronger footing and carry that form into the next four legs.
They will however be immediately put to the test with last year’s losing cup finalists here Impala, who despite being without Sammy Oliech, Robert Aringo and Vincent Mose will be a real handful. Kabras look set to be the surprise package not only here but through out this season.
With some exciting Fijian acquisitions, the sugar millers will probably match their 2013 exploits or even do better. Homeboyz and Kabras met last weekend during a series of friendlies in Nakuru, the Djs claiming a 19-5 result. Machine will probably be in over their heads in this Pool, but should not be overlooked.
Last year’s surprise package Top Fry Nakuru RFC are seeded top in Pool C, after finishing third on the overall log in what was a great sevens season for the Rift boys. They are joined in this Pool by the Strathmore Leos, Catholic Monks and BlakBlad.
The Wanyore will be again looking for a strong start this season as they begin their challenge for a first ever sevens series title. Last year they had a slow start in the opening leg, bowing out at the Plate Semi finals at the Railway club. With virtually the same squad from last year with a few additions, don’t bet against this side.
The Leos were last year’s definition of under achievers, blowing hot and cold through out the five legs. This year expect the Leos to be a more formidable force challenging for the series, with their young crop of players now a bit more experienced.
Last year, the Monks made a blazing start to the series at the Railway club, making it all the way to the Plate final, then following this up with a Bowl title in Kisumu. They however faded away in the next three legs posting back to back to back Bowl semi finals.
This looks like a straight forward pool on paper, but with the Monks and Blakblad all looking to score one over their campus rivals Strathmore, it might not be that simple.
Defending Christies champions Mwamba headline Pool D, where they are met by hosts Quins, Kisumu and Daystar.
Kulabu have been on a quite challenging rebuilding patch since the last time they lifted the series title, this could very much be the year they finally come good. They had a shaky start in their home tournament last year, bowing out at the Plate Semi, before slipping further off the pace with a bowl semi exit in Dala.
The black shirts impressively got back on their feet, with back to back third place finishes followed by that title win at Christies. They will ideally be looking to pick up from where they left, as they challenge for their first series title in 3 years.
Hosts Quins bowed out at the Semi finals last year to bitter cross fence neighbours Impala. Their sevens season could be termed as satisfactory, not doing too bad with a cup final in the first leg then ascending steadily from a Plate semi to a final then lifting the Plate title in Nakuru before that Cup semi final exit.
The 2012 Series champions will be out for a stronger performance this time out and will be out to kick it off with the home title. The return of Willy Ambaka gives their prospects here a very big boost, alongside the likes of Patrice Agunda, Eden Agero and Kevin Keagan, you write them off at your own peril.
It looks like Kisumu and Daystar will be battling out for positions 3 and 4 in this Pool they should however not be taken lightly. Kisumu having famously claimed Mwamba’s scalp in that Bowl semi final in Dala, we all remember the Falcons’ exploits in the season before last.
There is no saying if the Athi river students can’t replicate that form, the match against Mwamba should be interesting with current Daystar head coach Kevin ‘Bling’ Wambua being part of the side that last won the series at Mwamba.
20 sides divided into 5 pools of four will be battling for a chance to play in the 1st division in Kisumu. Last year’s runner’s up in this division Masaku RFC are seeded top, headlining Pool A, their biggest rivals for the title here should be TUK, JKUAT, Mombasa and KCA.
The Pools here, look like this :
Pool E : Masaku, MKU Thika, Moi University, Quins II.
Pool F : KCA, Stormers, Brumbies, Multimedia University.
Pool G : Mombasa, Bungoma Sharks, Kisii RFC, KPA Eldoret.
POOL H : JKUAT, Bungoma, Kiambu, KEMU.
POOL I : TUK, Comras, Masinde Muliro, Makueni.
There’s nothing quite like the opening leg of the series, the unpredictability of how the teams will do, the anxiety, the freshness of the sides, then the actual action. It is like nothing else!
In so many words, you don’t want to miss the action at the RFUEA this weekend, you only get this chance once every year. This time round you get to witness it at the oldest sevens tournament in the country, see you there.