The 7s Show This Far
Two legs into the local sevens circuit and we are already talking up chances of this being the most competitive series, ever! Here is why.
In the previous years, it usually took the first couple of legs to pick out the 2 or 3 sides who were going to fight it out for the overall title. The first leg was to identify the front runners, the second to weed out any pretenders, from that point the series then revolved around the 2 or 3 teams.
This year however, as we head down to Mombasa for the Driftwood 7s, having already done the Prinsloo and Kabeberi legs, the are no out and out front runners. Yes we do have that one conglomerate that looks like it is going to go all the way, but in two legs it has lost to Western Bulls, Impala and Mwamba.
Apart from the Conglomerate, there are another 7 sides that are very well in the race, the last of those, the series defending champions, Top Fry Nakuru RFC. The other 6 are Impala, Quins, Strathmore, Mwamba, KCB and Kabras Sugar.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the conglomerate is Homeboyz RFC, who on paper, are the outright favourites to lift the series. They have so far played in two finals, winning in Prinsloo then losing at the Kabeberi 7s. They have met the same side in those two finals, a very impressive Impala side, who won in Kabeberi,at sudden death.
Perhaps the most exciting of all aspects in this year’s series however, is the amount of young fresh talent coming through at the top clubs. The likes of Impala, Mwamba and KCB have virtually unrecognisable squads, having placed their faith in the next generation of stars. The rest have not been left behind either with each having 3 or 4 young faces stepping up to the plate to be counted.
That this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting sevens series in recent years is no longer in doubt.
Heading to Mombasa, the overall log looks something like this, just in case you needed confirmation, that this is shaping up to become one of the most exciting seasons in recent time.:
1. Homeboyz – 41
2. Impala – 41
3. Kenya Harlequins – 32
4. Strathmore Leos – 32
5. Mwamba – 24
6. KCB – 23
7. Kabras – 20
In the two legs played we have had a similar set of top 4 finishers, just that they had a round of musical chairs. In Prinsloo, the Strathmore Annexe (that is their new name) came in first with Impala second, Quins were third with the Leos finishing in 4th. At the Kabeberi 7s, Impala picked up the cup, Strathmore Annexe were second with Leos third and Quins 4th.
The next three have had an almost similar run in the Plate category, with Mwamba losing finalists to KCB in Nakuru then Kabras in Nairobi. Nakuru haven’t gone past the Plate semi final stage, with Kabras like KCB, picking up the title in one, then bowing out at the semis in the other.
Somebody will have to break this cocoons in Mombasa, if for nothing else, just to keep the narrative of this being the most exciting series yet, alive.
The Sarries, headliners of the Driftwood 7s, kick start their campaign against Makueni, Blak Blad and Nakuru RFC. The cup qualifiers in this one seem straight forward, though watch out for Blakblad who did look real menacing at Kabeberi. The defending series champions have so far started on a cold footing, having not gone past the Plate semi final stage as earlier mentioned.
This despite the fact that they have virtually the same squad that took them to the series title last year. Perhaps the fact that the series hasn’t opened up, plays well into their hands, this will be their best opportunity at taking full advantage of the situation.
Impala have so far looked like the Nakuru from last year, with nothing fancy or flashy, just a solid game plan, a great desire to accomplish their goals backed by some incredible team work. Theirs will be a matter of keeping the momentum they have so far gathered up, going.
The Djs headline Pool B, where they will be up against Kisii, hosts Mombasa and KCB. As mentioned earlier, the DJs are on paper the odds on favourites to lift the series, sadly, rugby is not played on paper.
Packing some serious fire power, the Strathmore Annexe will be going for nothing short of the Driftwood title in Mombasa. Though they have come under criticism that they play too one dimensional, not many sides can keep up with that dimension. The physicality clearly works for them and at the end of the day, you play what works best for you.
KCB have so far looked like the most unlikely side to challenge for the overall title, their side devoid of many of the faces that led them to back to back series titles in 2013/2014. Their young charges have however stepped up to the plate and have so far put in some impressive shows.The young charges will be looking to build on the confidence they have so far acquired in the two legs played.
Kisii RFC who have shown great potential will be backing their chances to claim a scalp here, especially that of KCB.
Strathmore Leos take charge of Pool C where they are met by Mean Machine, the fast rising Menengai Oilers and defending Driftwood sevens champions, Mwamba.
The Leos will be looking to break that semi final barrier and play in a cup final for the first time this season. Backed by an upcoming young spine, then with the likes of Churchill Ooko, Alex Olaba, Adrian Opondo, Ginton Adongo and Elton Isiaho. After the exodus that hit the Leos, they have so far proved any doubters wrong.
Defending Driftwood champions Mwamba will be looking to finally kick start their campaign at the Mombasa Sports Club. Kulabu have had a muted start, losing in two Plate finals this far. They are another side that has brought in a hand full of new faces with the likes of Eliakim Kichoi, Steve Sikuta, Dennis Momanyi and Joe Otieno. But with experienced heads like Horace Otieno, Michael Agevi and Louis Kisia, Kulabu have what it takes to defend the title they won here last year.
With a transport sponsor, I don’t think we will be seeing the black shirts arriving minutes to kick off again, hehe. Keep an eye out for the new kids on the block, Menengai Oilers who have ruffled feathers so far in the series.
The Kenya Harlequin headline Pool D, and will be battling it out against Kisumu, Daystar and Kabras Sugar. Another straight forward Pool, barring any calamities.
Many had tipped the Quin to be the side to give Homeboyz a true run for their money, so far though the quartered shirts are a bit behind the pace. With a squad featuring the likes of Frank Wanyama, Eden Agero, Felix Ayange and William Mawira, it is surprising that they are yet to play in a cup final. They will be looking at Driftwood as the point where they finally show what they can do.
The past two legs have seen us watch for probably the first time in a while, a fully Kenyan Kabras side. With the internationals on holiday, the local lads have put in a good show so far. Under the direction of the slippery Brian Tanga, the blistering Aluda Beda and the marauding George Otieno, they have shown they can match up to anyone, especially physically. After picking the Plate title in Nairobi, can they move on to play in the Cup semi finals? They sure do have the potential to do so.
It will be a very open field, in Mombasa which makes it the more exciting, up to 7 maybe 5 sides can go all the way to lift the title, depending on who you ask. What is for sure is we are in for a real treat at the coast. Also make sure to keep an eye on the likes of Menengai Oilers, Kisii RFC and Makueni, if what we saw last year is anything to go by.
POOL A: Resolution Impala Saracens, Top Fry Nakuru, Blak Blad, Makueni
POOL B: Menengai Cream Homeboyz, KCB, Resolution Kisii, Mombasa
POOL C: Strathmore Leos, Mwamba, Menengai Oilers, Mean Machine
POOL D: Kenya Harlequin, Kabras Sugar, Daystar Falcons, Kisumu.