Much-loved Kenya Sevens, Please Get Back To The World Svns Series

19 Days(s) Ago    👁 35
What you need to know:
  • Kenya finished second in the Challenger and have been grouped in Pool B.
  • Action begins on Friday and Kenyas first game is against Samoa at 6.25pm.
  • The late World Rugby Sevens Operations Manager Beth Coalter once said this of the Kenya Sevens fans:

    'They are always very good and seem to travel in huge numbers. The Kenyans are loud and colourful. At every tournament there is a cluster of them.

    I have never had the pleasure of attending a traditional leg of the World Sevens Series but I have had the privilege of covering a couple of Rugby World Cup Sevens, and I can tell you the Kenya Corner -- that vibrant, carnival mass of red, black, green and white -- loudly rocks.

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    The 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai had one of the largest recorded Kenyan attendance to an international sevens tournament.

    Almost an entire wing of the Sevens Stadium was filled to the rafters by a loud, exuberant, festive Kenyan crowd, backing Shujaa to the hilt and passing on the infectious energy to the entire facility.

    They, and this writer, were not disappointed as Shujaa claimed the big scalp of Fiji on their way to a historic semi-final appearance where they lost 12-0 to Argentina.

    You can imagine the disappointment of this group of supporters and indeed the passionate Kenyan rugby sevens global fraternity when Shujaa were relegated from the Series last season to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger.

    But every cloud has a silver lining, and the lively band of supporters, basically a loose collection of fun-loving Kenyan rugby fans, based in Kenya and in the diaspora, who will make every effort to turn up for an international sevens tournament involving Shujaa, has lit up the three-round Challenger series this season.

    The ubiquitous Kenya Sevens supporters were at full cry during the Challenger first round in Dubai in January where a sublime Shujaa, featuring a crop of mainly new players under new coach Kelvin Bling Wambua, claimed the top prize after edging Chile 12-5 in the final.

    Crowd favourite, the blistering fast Patrick Odongo plundered a brace of tries in that final match to finish with a tournament high 11 touchdowns.

    Kenya finished third in Montevideo in March, to place themselves second in the standings, behind leaders Uruguay going into the third and final Challenger round in Munich two weekends back.

    The Kenya Sevens fans, from Germany, the European Union and presumably elsewhere, came in their numbers. By my estimation, they were easily the largest group of supporters at the Dantestadion where the round was held.

    The gathered sea of Kenyan flag colours, hundreds, possibly thousands, even attracted Ugandan fans and those drawn to the energy and vibes of that carnival corner.

    For those at home, we could only follow live online and on television as Shujaa finished day one with a perfect three wins from three matches.

    The team came unstuck in the quarter-finals losing 19-17 to a six-man German side. This was the second time Kenya were losing to the Germans in the Challenge after their 24-12 group loss in Dubai. Grrr!

    Anyhow, the defeat did not dampen the spirit on the Kenya Corner at Dantestadion and Shujaa, urged on by the inevitable noisy band, bounced back to crush boastful Uganda 48-0 in the fifth place play-off.

    Nygel Amaitsas reaction after he expensively sold a dummy, and engaged in a galloping length-of-the-pitch run to score a try between the sticks against Portugal in the group stages amply illustrated the affectionate relation between the players and the Kenya Corner.

    His engine no doubt heated after the blistering run, Amaitsa cooled off by turning to the stands full of the ecstatic Kenyan supporters and raising his hands like a conquering king before pumping his chest in appreciation.

    The Kenyans (on the stands) are up and dancing again, the commentator on RugbyPass TV enthused.

    No doubt, this weekend, the Kenyan horde will descend on the Civitas Metropolitano Stadium home of Spanish La Liga football giants Atletico Madrid, to cheer Shujaa to promotion to the SVNS Series, as the world elite event is now called, during the three-day Grand Final.

    You feel the Kenyan Corner will want to return to the higher profile elite sevens competition.

    I bet many followers of the game, who also love the aesthetics and the festivities at a rugby stadium, desire to see much-loved Kenya back at the topmost level of world sevens.

    It will not be easy. The top four teams in the Challenger, and the four bottom sides in the SVNS will be involved in a promotion battle to secure four spots in next years elite tournament