Security fears as Dala Sevens rocked by mass withdrawals

Chris Asego (L) of Mwamba RFC evades attack by Pius Sulundu of Harlequins RFC during ...
(FILE)Chris Asego (L) of Mwamba RFC evades attack by Pius Sulundu of Harlequins RFC during their Kenya Cup league match at Railways club in Nairobi, Kenya on March 12, 2016. Harlequins RFC won 27-5. Photo/Oliver Ananda/

The Dala Sevens Thursday suffered multiple withdrawals as teams pulled out from the tournament that will mark the sixth and final leg of the national rugby sevens circuit in Kisumu.

The prevailing political climate has been cited as chief reason as five teams withdrew participation on the back of concerted efforts from the Kisumu County Government seeking to assure player and fan security.

Championship side Menengai Oilers and four Kenya Cup teams; Kenya Harlequins, Strathmore Leos, Top Fry Nakuru and, Nondescripts announced they will play no part in the tournament scheduled for October 21-22 at the ASK Mamboleo Showground.

Organizers confirmed the same days after publishing team pools and is certainly a huge blow for the competition, a week after County Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o moved to reiterate the commitment of his local administration in security provision.

The pull out of the teams now sees only two teams left in Pool A which are Kabras and newly promoted MMUST after Nondies and Oilers withdrawal.

Pool C will have Nakuru out while the other three KCB, Blak Blad and Hosts Kisumu RFC will battle it out as they await a replacement.

Modern Coast sponsored Mwamba RFC and Makueni RFC remain after Kenya Harlequins and Campus boys Strathmore Leos pulled out.

Insecurity has been a key issue of discussion before the release of the pools and with uncertainty surrounding Kenya’s repeat presidential elections where Kisumu has experienced mass demonstrations.

KCB RFC Coach Dennis “Ironman” Mwanja was quick to dismiss this claim assuring teams and players that all was well and his team will not hesitate to take part in the grand finale.

“I was there just two weeks with USIU rugby team where we participated in the “KINGS of Rugby” in Maseno. I don’t think there is any reason for teams not to travel and participate. Furthermore the demonstrations have been called off so it is a good time for Rugby.

“It’s unfortunate that teams are pulling out but we hope the organizers will find a perfect replacement and all will be set for a bonanza,” Mwanja added.

Menengai Oilers Head Coach Gibson Weru shared divergent opinions to those of his counterpart noting they cannot take chances over the security of his players.

“I have consulted widely with our stakeholders and those involved including parents of our players and we saw it as an excellent idea to pull out.

“My boys have been consistent in the top flight and this being the last round we would have loved to take part but unfortunately with the political tensions especially in that region that will not happen, we wish all the traveling teams all the best,” Weru held.

The top three teams at the helm of the log still have their guns blazing and are yet to withdraw as they head to the grand finale in Kisumu.

Third placed Menengai Homeboyz headline Pool B together with second placed Impala Saracens as no team has withdrawn from that pool while Kabras Sugar will have to wait for the replacements of Oilers and Nondies.

As teams approach the last leg in Kisumu this weekend Kabras are on top with 85 points, Impala second with 80, Homeboyz third with 78.

Kenya Rugby and Hosts Kisumu RFC are yet to issue any statements on the way forward and the replacements’ of the already withdrawn teams.

Dala Sevens Pools:

Pool A: Kabras, MMUST

Pool B: Impala, Homeboyz, Bulls, Kisii

Pool C:  KCB, Blad, Kisumu

Pool D: Mwamba,  Makueni

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Story By Benson Mbare
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