Rugby clubs unhappy with season cancellation

Wednesday May 13 2020
By AYUMBA AYODI

Top Kenya Cup sides KCB, Kabras Sugar and Mwamba Rugby have criticised the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) for cancelling the ongoing rugby season without consultation.

Strathmore University Leos, who are on the verge of promotion to Kenya Cup next season after completing the KRU Championship regular season unbeaten, also termed the move unfair, retrogressive and dictatorial.

KRU secretary general, Ian Mugambi, in a statement Thursday, annulled all league and cup competitions this season due to the novel coronavirus crisis.

“The cancellation means there will be no promotion or relegation in any of the leagues, with all teams remaining in their current division for next season,” said Mugambi in a statement.

Mugambi said the results from the 2019/2020 Kenya Cup, KRU Championship and Nationwide Leagues have been rendered invalid alongside the Enterprise and Mwamba Cup.

KCB Rugby chairman Xavier Makuba, his Kabras Sugar counterpart Philip Jalangó and Mwamba Rugby president Alvas Onguru said that the union should have delayed the season instead of annulling the season.

The Leos head coach Louis Kisia said that it has taken a lot of investment and sacrifices from the team’s management and the players to top the Championship league unbeaten.

“It’s unfortunate to read statements from the union when they haven’t bothered to engage us,” said Makuba, adding that it was too early to make the move when they were only remaining with less than a month to finish both the Kenya Cup and Championship season.
“They should have suspended it for another month or so instead of coming with such unpopular decisions,” said Makuba adding that even the ministry of education has not cancelled this year’s learning process.

Makuba said they laboured to have their sponsors stay at these hard economic times yet the Union is proving careless. “What will you tell your sponsor,” said Makiuba.

Jalangó said that teams have invested a lot in their players and the game, hence the arbitrary is uncalled for.

“Sports all over the world are looking for solutions yet here we are quick in cancelling the leagues. All the major events that were to happen in the country have been differed not cancelled,” said Jalangó, who singled out the World Continental Tour and World Under-20 Championships in athletics and Safari Rally.

Jalangó said only three round of matches were remaining to close the season hence needless to annul it.

“We already know which teams have been relegated from Kenya Cup and Championship,” explained Jalangó, adding that Championship teams like Strathmore Leos and Masinde Muliro University only have one match to determine their promotion to Kenya Cup.

Onguru said that while he understands the circumstances, there could have been a mitigation with the new season having been set to begin in October.

“We still have a long way to go hence no hurry. They should have engaged us in a teleconference to discuss the situation,” said Onguru, who went on to question the state of sevens season including Safari Sevens if the local leagues have been cancelled.

Onguru said there will be heavy commercial and financial implications to KRU’s move. “Our sponsors will definitely be asking for answers. This high-handedness must end at the Union,” said Onguru.

“We are just a win away from promotion to Kenya Cup and we simply can’t take in that dictatorial move by the union,” said Kisia adding that even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were pushed to next year not cancelled.

KRU moved to postpone the leagues after the government issued a directive following the first case of the Covid-19 on March 13.

Both Kenya Cup and KRU Championship were due for the playoffs on March 14 with the semi-finals due March 21. The finals had been planned for April 4.

The Enterprise Cup semi-finals were due March 28 with the finals scheduled for April 18.

Kabras Sugar had topped the regular Kenya Cup with 74 points followed by defending champions Kenya Commercial Bank on 71.

Homeboyz were to meet Menengai Oilers in the play-off with the winners getting to meet KCB in the semi-finals, while Kabras Sugar were to await the winners between Impala Saracens and Mwamba.

Strathmore Leos had topped the KRU Championship unbeaten with 76 points followed by Masinde Muliro University with 67 points. The Leos were to face the winner between Northern Suburbs and United States International University in one of the semi-final.

Masinde Muliro would have met the winner between Mean Machine from the University of Nairobi and Egerton Wasps.