5 Lessons From The 20th Safari 7s
Another year, another Safari 7s. This time round, we got half the picture right, with great quality on the field but nothing close, off it.
Here are a few things I picked up :
1. Safari Sevens still has it.
Like I said in the preview, the organisers managed to put together a decent line up and the sides did not disappoint.
At the close of Day 1, there were no real out and out favourites, eventual winners Samurai were in good company with the Shujaa, Newcastle Wailers, Western Province, England Saxons and the Australian Iconz. The level of competition was a joy to watch especially in Pool C where the Morans failed to make the cup quarter finals due to aggregate score having beaten Zimbabwe 12-10 in the pool opener.
On the stands there were a few positives, with only a week’s advertising, the tournament still managed to attract close to 10,000 fans if not more, from my amateur estimating skills. If we could get those numbers in such a short time and virtually no budget, imagine how much more could be done with proper planning.
2. Set a Kenyan to beat a Kenyan
The old adage goes something like set a thief to catch a thief, at the Safari 7s it held true, with the thief being Shujaa. Eventual winners Samurai had 4 Kenyans in the squad that narrowly beat Shujaa in the cup final, and they were not alone, the Newcastle wailers had an equal number.
It was great to see the local boys mixing it up with the internationals and showing their quality. The boys who missed out on a national call up did raise their hand up, probably giving the technical bench a few more headaches with selection.
3. Depth in Sevens game is impressive
This section is dedicated to the Morans, who like the Simba Saba last year reminded us of just how much talent we have in this country.
Of the 12 players in the squad only 3 had played in the world series and 7 in a Safari 7s, those numbers might not look that impressive, until you look at the pool they were handed. They kicked off their campaign with a 12-10 win over a virtually full strength Zimbabwe side, then battled to a 26-19 result against Samurai, before walloping Uganda 36-0.
Unfortunately they missed out on a place in the cup courtesy of 7 aggregate points, that didn’t dampen their resolve, picking themselves up to put beat Zambia 31-0, Namibia 29-12 and Portugal 26-12 to claim the Bowl title.
Looking at the two squads, we had a total of 10 players who were playing in their first Safari 7s and they really did impress. The likes of Frank Wanyama, Geoffrey Ominde, Nelson Oyoo, Jeff Oluoch, Collins Shikholi and Don Oluoch were a joy to watch.
How we manage this talent is now the big question, with only 23 players up for contracts, we need to return to the days where we used to participate in the second tier invitational tournaments, remember those? Roma 7s and the likes.
4. Rio Here we come!
The safari sevens was a precursor of sorts to the African Olympic qualifiers, and from what we saw at the weekend I can now say, Rio here we come!
The Morans did enough to get past Zimbabwe on day one, with the Shujaa running 24-0 winners over the Cheetahs in the cup semi final. The Morans also beat Zambia, Namibia and Uganda convincingly on their way to the Bowl title, in so many words we were a class above our African counterparts.
With the qualifier a little over a month away, I don’t expect the pecking order to change. However we’ll need to be very cautious and avoid a Japan-Boks episode in Johannesburg.
It was great to see the young charges standing up to be counted, the likes of Frank Wanyama and Nelson Oyoo had a great two days. The sevens main stays also had an impressive run out, Willy Ambaka and Andrew Amonde were immense for the Shujaa, Biko kept his rich vain of form going and he seems to have found his kicking boots.
It looked like Ken Moseti and Augustine Lughonzo could finally solve our head ache at sweeper from their performances. The two also combined very well in the final, to give us that flair we had all been longing for.
5. We Need To Put Our House In Order, before its too late!
Last but definitely not least, I know this has been said a million times over but I’ll say it one more time. We need to get the Union in order before things get worse and yes they can get worse.
With a month to the tournament, nobody had an idea whether we were going to see the 20th edition take off. Indeed, if it were not for Safaricom’s last minute intervention we would not have had this tournament. Stories of a director trying to sabotage the tournament further taints the image of this sport we love.
We all know what is eating away at us, we all admit that there is something very wrong at the clay house. All of us except the guys who are tasked with safeguarding this sport, the clubs representatives, who seemingly are happy to live on this way. We will have no one to blame if we don’t curb this nonsense!