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KRFU plans to change season calendar

Saturday August 23 2008
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Coach Mitch Ocholla watches Kingley Litali in action during the under-19 national rugby team speed work training at RFUEA grounds for the Africa rugby confederation tournament to be held in Tunisia .Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO

The Kenya Rugby Football Union is considering changing the rugby calendar to match that of the International Rugby Board. Kenya has resisted change which has been embraced by other countries in the region.

Several coaches have voiced their concern about the counterproductive season which has made it difficult for players to honour national assignments and league matches. 

Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno, the national rugby team head coach, said there was need for the season to be revised to ensure there was no conflict with the national team’s preparations.

Otieno spoke on arrival from Tunisia, where the national team lost 15-44 to Tunisia in a 2011 Rugby World Cup Qualifier. Player Innocent Simiyu said unless this was implemented, the national team would continue to lag behind.

“There is player fatigue and it is impossible to concentrate on the league and national assignments,” Simiyu said.

Club coaches also added their voice. Charles Ngovi, an assistant national coach, said the season should start in September or October.

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“We have to create time for the national team. This can only be done by completing the league assignments early and then concentrating on the tournaments,” he said.

Paul Odera, a former national team player who is now in charge of Nondescripts agreed. He wants clubs to be compelled to have teams for the Eric Shirley Shield. “This will be a vital feeder to the national teams,” he said.

Strathmore University coach Mitch Ocholla and KCB’s Bill Githinji suggested the league start in October.

Ocholla said there should be a Western League to tap the raw talent. “Ideally, the league should end in May paving way for tournaments,” Ocholla said.

According to an initial draft fixtures which are being prepared by the KRFU, a proposal has been made for the new season to kick off in November.

Impala Floodlit may kick off early in January while the Bamburi Rugby Super Series could be held in June with a break in between allowing for Safari Sevens.

The knockout Enterprise Cup is slated for May and the first leg of Elgon Cup on July 24.

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