5 Talking Points From The 2019 Tusker Safari 7s
After that weekend, it is safe to say that the Tusker Safari sevens is back, like it never left.
This was a vintage Safari sevens weekend, from the vibe around the grounds to the action on and off the field, I only hope it will mark the turnaround of this great tournament. So what are the five things that stood out this weekend?
1. We finally got the ingredients right – Time and again, it has been said that the ingredients for a great tournament are top teams, favourable ticket prices and a dunda to wrap it up. KRU and its partners finally got the ingredients right and despite the rain and resultant mud, we saw upwards of 6K people over the two days walking through the gates to get a piece of the action.
2. Kenya Sevens is at a good place – Kenya was represented by three sides in the tournament, the Kenya Shujaa, the Kenya Morans and the 2019 Stanbic National Sevens series winners, KCB. The three teams gave a great account of themselves on day one to see them through to the cup quarter finals with the Morans going on to lift the Robin Cahill trophy, the Shujaa finishing third and KCB bowing out at the 5th place semi final.
It was impressive to see the depth of talent we have in the country, we can also add the Red Wailers to this list, they had eight or so Kenyan players.
3. The Young talent – We had already been exposed to some great young talent during the nationals sevens series but it was great to see the young charges putting up their hands at the biggest local/regional stage. The likes of Mike Okello, Ian Mabwa, Samuel Asati, Joel Inzuga, Davis Nyaundi, Geoffrey Okwach left their mark on the tournament and will add on to Paul Feeney’s squad selection headache as we get into the Olympic Qualifiers and World series. Should we consider the likes of Oscar Dennis, Vincent Onyala and Daniel Taabu as young or ‘new’ talent anymore?
4. Mud, what mud?! – Despite the weather conditions during the tournament, fans and players alike took it within their stride and made the most of the situation. On the pitch we were treated to some high quality rugby, while off it, the mud only slowed down our movement to the village. Gumboot sales skyrocketed around Toi market, the Bata at Junction mall and its environs.
5. If we are to grow, we need to move – It might be an unpopular opinion but the hard truth is if we are to grow this tournament, we will eventually need to move it from the RFUEA grounds. It might not be next year or the one after, but it will eventually need to happen. While we might feel cosy at the RFUEA, if we harbour any hopes of taking the tournament to the World series or growing it to international standards, we will have to move. Nyayo maybe? Kasarani, or even to another county, we saw the success the test matches had, why not the Safari sevens?
All in all, it was a superb weekend of sevens rugby, a fitting culmination of what has been a great local sevens series, now bring on the fifteens season!
KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!