Heads will roll, rugby boss Omwela promises after World Cup horror show


The Kenya national rugby sevens team Shujaa hurdle before their match against Canada at the ...
The Kenya national rugby sevens team Shujaa hurdle before their match against Canada at the Hong Kong HSBC World Series (PHOTO/Jan Perlich)

In Summary

  • The Kenya Rugby Union chairman Richard Omwela has promised far- reaching reforms in the national sevens team popularly known as Shujaa in the wake of a horrific performance at the just concluded Sevens World Cup.
  • Shujaa went into the tournament will high hopes but embarrassed the flag with lame-duck performances, drawing the ire of the rugby boss.

Bernard Ndong in San Francisco, USA

The Kenya Rugby Union chairman Richard Omwela has promised far- reaching reforms in the national sevens team popularly known as Shujaa in the wake of a horrific performance at the just concluded Sevens World Cup.

Shujaa went into the tournament with high hopes but embarrassed the flag with lame-duck performances, drawing the ire of the rugby boss.

Speaking to Citizen Digital in the USA, Omwela said: “A couple of heads will roll, there is no doubt about it. Contracts are over, the world cup is over, we need to look at every player specifically, if we play like this going into the circuit we are going nowhere, we will be the laughing stock of the whole world,” Omwela charged

“The players have not been mentally there in the games, it was evident in our  next two games, their heads had dropped,” Musembi Mumo, a Kenyan international and former forwards coach observed.

“It looked like the boys were not really settled and it looks they didn’t take the seriousness of the tournament , ” Tim Githugu, a Kenyan international in 1984 said.

“We shouldn’t have lost a 26 – 0 lead maybe we should have been more aggressive in defence , “Allan Makaka, a Kenya international in 2005 summed up the frustration.

As Kenya made its way back to the changing room after their final game against Japan, their crestfallen faces told the story of a team that was distraught.

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Richard Omwela follow proceedings during their Africa Cup Sevens match at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on September 24, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Richard Omwela follow proceedings during their Africa Cup Sevens match at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on September 24, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

Shujaa had played five games and won only one; their last game a humbling 26 -14 loss to Japan.

The old adage goes; when it rains it pours, and it seemed for Kenya their North American tour had been a proper storm, their performance a far cry from their exploits in the last two editions where they reached the semifinals in the pinnacle of rugby sevens.

Head coach Innocent Simiyu blamed it on the disruption that affected the team’s preparations a month before the World Cup, when he was sacked and then rehired following the controversial masking of Brand Kenya’s logo in Paris.

“We lost four weeks of preparations, we only had two weeks to prepare, and for the two weeks we trained, it was for the boys to get into playing condition,” he said, adding that the local politics had compromised the players’ psyche. “You must have an environment that allows players to succeed.”

Simiyu’s observation was echoed by Kenya’s captain Oscar Ayodi who admitted that mentally Shujaa were never plugged into the World Cup.

“We need ample time for practice our game work and skills. When we have interruptions in between, it’s so hard to focus on these things.”

The imposition in the hands of Scotland in the round of 16 where Kenya blew a 26 – 0 lead with less than four minutes to go was a clear sign that all was not well.

Former Kenya players who watched the painful defeat at the AT and Park believe the loss destabilized the team mentally for the entire tournament.

“If the players have not been mentally in the games, our next two games have been the same, the people’s heads dropped,” Tim Githugu, a Kenya international in 1984 summed up the frustration.

“The 2018 horror show draws parallels to the 2005 Kenyan team.

It looked like the boys were not really settled and it looks like they didn’t take the tournament seriously,”Alan Makaka featured for the team in 2005 said.

Shujaa is expected back in Kenya on Tuesday.

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Story By Bernard Ndong
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