Five Talking Points After Kakamega Sevens
What a way to start the 2019 Stanbic National Sevens series that was! Kakamega offered what only it can, the best way it can, great hospitality and a two day sevens festival that had a little bit of everything.
From great action on the pitch, to late evening drama, heart breaks, new stars, underdogs rising, entertainment and everything in between, the Bull ring and county 037, had it all. But what are the five things we can pick out from the first leg of the 2019 series.
1. Kakamega Can Do It – It was the second time in less than five months, that Kakamega was hosting a top flight rugby fixture, after successfully hosting the Kenya Cup final in May.
After the success of the Kakamega sevens, we can safely say that we have unlocked another host location for high profile rugby matches. It indeed has been a great couple of months for the western region as a whole, with Kisumu having hosted the first leg of the Elgon Cup. Let’s hope other regions will follow suit, rugby ya Nairobi peke yake imekua boring.
2. Young Talent – It was impressive to see the young upcoming talent that was on display over the two days, as clubs unleashed their next generation of stars in Kakamega.
The KCB side that lifted the title for instance, featured the likes of Mike Wekesa who was making his debut for the side, alongside Mike Kimwele, Shadon Munoko, Isaac Njoroge, eventual tournament top try, point and MVP Vincent Onyala and the hot stepping Johnstone Olindi who are all in their early twenties.
Homeboyz with the likes of the heavy hitting Bob Muhati, Jan Remke, Brian Juma, Brunson Madigo who is fresh out of high school, Michael Nyakundi and Mark Wandetto who may seem like household names but are still very young.
This script was the same across the board with Mwamba, Nondies, Impala, Strathmore, MMUST, Nakuru, all fielding very young sides, the average age dropped even further in the second division, we truly have a lot of talent coming through the ranks.
3. MMUST’s love affair with Sevens – From the days when they raised eyebrows with wins over Nondies a couple of years back, to this weekend where they were the highest ranked local team. The Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology has had some great times in the shorter version of the sport and this weekend was no different.
Wins over Kabras and Kisii on day one saw the students make it to the cup quarter final from Pool C, a respectable 22-12 loss at the hands of Nakuru saw them drop to the fifth places semi finals, where they lost to Nondies 22-5.
There must be something they are doing right at MMUST that makes them embody the magic of sevens rugby and square it out with the big boys, perhaps it is the full sports scholarships?
It was generally a good outing for the universities, with Strathmore finishing 5th, Machine reaching the Challenge trophy final and Blak blad playing in the Div 2 final.
4. The Shockers – As is the norm, the game of sevens serves up some shockers, Kakamega was no different.
Probably the biggest of them all was the total capitulation of the Kenya Harlequins who completed the tournament without a single win to their name, to see them finish bottom of the pile. Whatever it is that is happening with the Quin, we hope that is resolved quickly and the quartered shirt can get back to competing at the highest level.
Another shocker was Kabras’ form, who only managed two wins on the two days, one against Kisii the other to book division one status, against Quins. It was a far cry from what we have come to expect from the 2017 National Sevens series champions. We hope they can rediscover their form in Meru.
It was also shocking to see some clubs introducing a late evening edition of sevens rugby, with the now infamous petition against KCB, we hope it was the last we have seen of this new format of the game.
5. It is a wide open race – Though it is still early to call it, if Kakamega is anything to go by, the race to the overall sevens title is wide open.
Before Kakamega, we had expected a race mainly between Homeboyz and Mwamba, but after what we saw, the race could be between four or five teams; with KCB, Nakuru, Strathmore, Nondies and Impala all looking like they have what it takes to make a real charge at the series title.
All early indications point to a nail biting Stanbic National Sevens series, we will be right here to give you the best of it, as it unfolds.
Kakamega done and dusted, bring on Meru!
KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!