Time to reflect for battered Kenya 7s as tough year ends

Sunday June 2 2019

France's Manoel Dall'igna (left) vies with Kenya's Nelson Oyoo during their HSBC Paris Sevens Series rugby match at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris, on June 2, 2019. PHOTO | LUCAS BARIOULET |

France's Manoel Dall'igna (left) vies with Kenya's Nelson Oyoo during their HSBC Paris Sevens Series rugby match at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris, on June 2, 2019. PHOTO | LUCAS BARIOULET |  AFP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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The national rugby sevens team collected 10 points from the Paris leg to finish 13th overall with 37 points as the 2018/2019 World Rugby Sevens Series ended on Sunday in the French capital.

It was perhaps Kenya’s worst ever show since the 2010/2011 Series where the country collected 16 points to finish ninth in a season that had eight legs compared to the current 10 legs.

It was the first time Kenya reached the main Cup quarter finals this season, a feat that saw them avoid relegation on Saturday to remain as one of the core teams in the Series.

It’s now time for Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) especially the new chairman Oduor Gangla to reflect on the state of the game in the country.

While the standoff between senior players and the union must be addressed comprehensively, cases of blackmail and indiscipline should not be tolerated. The country should now focus on rebuilding for the future and creating a large base of selection.

Kenya’s best performance going into Paris was in Hamilton, New Zealand where they reached the Challenge Trophy final.

Kenya, who have been World Rugby Sevens Series core side since 2004, reached Challenge Trophy semi-finals in Las Vegas and Hong Kong respectively and finished last in Dubai, Australia, Canada and London.

The season started on a wrong footing for head coach Paul “Pau” Murunga when senior players boycotted training. Murunga had to put up with mostly rookies in six legs before a few senior players like Andrew Amonde, Bush Mwale and Nelson Oyoo made a return in the last four legs.

Kenya Sevens run at Paris Sevens ended at the fifth place semi-final when they gave up their 21-7 lead losing to hosts France 26-21 in extra time at Stade Jean-Boiun.

Nothing would have saved Japan from relegation even after they beat Wales 33-17 in the semi-final for 13th place since they will end up 15th. Only one team has been relegated with Ireland, who won the qualifying tournament in Hong Kong getting the node.

Japan was to battle for either three or two points with Scotland in the final for the 13th place, which would put their total tally to either 28 or 27 points.

Nelson Oyoo landed a brace of tries as Michael Wanjala converted them to lead 14-7 at the break after Marvin OÇonnor gave France a try.

Cyprian Kuto would gallop through to score with Wanjala adding the extras for a 21-7 lead but Manoel Dall'igna’s double levelled at 21-21 with his last try coming at the death off a penalty after Andrew Amonde, who virtually carried Kenya through, being sin-binned.

Kenya knocked the restart ball off play before France cashed on its numerical to retain the line-out for Jonathan Laugel to squeeze in the winning try at the far corner.

KENYA LOSE TO US

Earlier, Kenya Sevens also blew up a 14-0 lead to lose to Mike Friday’s United States 26-14 in the main Cup quarter final.

Johnstone Olindi collected the ball at the back of the ruck at 5m zone to land the first try as Wanjala converted for a 7-0 lead.

The unrelenting Kenya would claim a turnover before Jeff Oluoch was put through to leave two defenders for dead with smashing handoffs. Oluoch then offloaded to Oyoo, who eased through to score. Wanjala added the extras to give Shujaa a 14-0 lead.

Steven Tomasin brought USA back into the match with a try to cut the deficit to 14-5 at the break. Things turned awry for Kenya on resumption when USA stepped up, cashing on sloppy defending to score in quick succession through Kevon Williams, Matai Letuta and Madison Hughes.

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