Five Talking Points From The Kabeberi 7s
When Mwamba first announced that they will be hosting the 2019 Kabeberi sevens at the Kinoru stadium in Meru, I was excited for two reasons. That I would finally get to see the Kinoru Stadium and the fact that it is always great seeing the sport venturing into ‘uncharted territory,’ and the reception it gets.
I am glad to report that Meru and the Kabeberi sevens did not disappoint, as far as ‘new’ rugby towns go, Meru easily makes the top three. It was a superb rugby weekend both on the field and off it, at the cold, green, hilly town of Meru. But what really stood out?
1. Meru Hospitality – To perfectly describe the town’s hospitality, we arrived in Meru on Saturday morning a few hours before the NZ vs SA match and started to quickly look for where to catch the game.
While most bars were closed that early, the residents were more than willing to direct us to the next available spot and when we finally found one, people went out of their way to make sure we watched the game, never mind they didn’t understand why grown men would be running around in the morning looking for ‘mahali ikona DSTV.’ Yes the allure of business notwithstanding, it was a welcome sight.
Another story, as a friend was heading back to the hotel in the evening after the games, he quickly summoned a boda boda guy, asking how much the trip to his hotel would cost, to his surprise, the boda guy responded, “Ah hiyo ni hapa tu, nitakua nakuibia, tembea hapo mbele utaiona.”
Meru really received its guests at the weekend with open arms, and don’t we all love a town that loves its party?
2. The race to the title – While the race to the overall series title is expected to take shape after the next two legs, all early indications point to a very mouth watering sprint to the finish.
Two different winners from the two legs, but the most impressive part has been the list of cup quarter finalists that has had some surprise entries, first it was MMUST in Kakamega then it was the Northern Suburb Cubs in Meru.
The Oilers faltered in Kakamega but have quickly got back onto the saddle and apart from that cup final where they met an impressive Mwamba side, they did not put a foot wrong at the weekend. Mwamba hold a two point lead at the top of the series standings, with KCB on 37, 5 points ahead of Homeboyz and Nakuru who are tied.
I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that I wish the table remains this close heading to the last leg in Mombasa.
3. Of Statements and Officiating – While Kakamega served us with midnight rugby, Meru had midnight statements. After day one action, the Kenya Harlequins head coach released a statement calling out the ‘horrific’ levels of officiating that robbed them of a win(s) on the day.
Not sure what the outcome the statement was, if any, whether the quartered shirts and indeed the rest of the teams saw improved levels of officiating. Or maybe let us wait for Dala.
It is a well known fact that officiating has been one of our biggest problems in the game and while they have improved in the recent past, case in point in the latter stages of the Kenya Cup, more can be done. But with the KRRS operating on shoestring budgets, we should start looking at ways of empowering the referee body in order to have a real impact on the levels of officiating.
4. Young Talent – At this rate, I should dedicate a paragraph for young talent in each review, while Kakamega was dominated by the likes of Vincent Onyala, Johnstone Olindi, Bob Muhati, Brunson Madigo and co. Meru had new young faces catching the eye.
First up was Mwamba’s Tony Omondi who has a boot made of gold, his kick offs caused teams all sorts of problems, his awareness and overall game management was exquisite, did I mention his kicks for goal? He eventually was awarded the tournament’s most promising player accolade.
Then there were the likes of Austin Sikutwa and Davis Nyaundi of Oilers, Samuel Asati who had only came back from Chipu duty in Brazil. The whole of the Northern Suburbs squad who made it to their first ever cup quarter final and a special mention to the Meru RFC side who showed great character to punch well above their weight.
5. The Selectors’ Headache – With the Kenya sevens next big assignment, make that the biggest assignment in the next four years, the Africa Olympic qualifier in December, expect the training squad to get into camp within the next couple of weeks.
From the first two legs, I would not like to be in the shoes of a selector, with the number of deserving players who have put their hand up for selection. From the seasoned campaigners to the new faces on the block, it is my hope that the selections are made on merit and nothing more.
Finally a special mention to Kenya sevens international Arthur Owira who made his comeback 470 days after fracturing his femur at the 2018 Commonwealth games, it is always great to see players back from long injury layoffs, all the best to Owira in the coming tournaments.
The Stanbic Sevens series takes a break this weekend to give teams and fans alike time to rest, recharge and recover from those opening two legs…up next is is the Dala sevens on the 10th & 11th of August in the city of Kisumu.
KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!