Except for the rest in the RBS 6 Nations, last weekend culminated to a ‘full course meal’ for us rugby enthusiasts. Shout out to all those who split their time to all rugby evento …straight from the Southern Hemisphere to somewhere in the USA. Let me break it down for starters, we had Super rugby happening- Chiefs lost to Lions, how the heck!; we had a fair share of the Kenya Cup round 14, this one had quite a surprise package- Blakblad beat Nondescripts! How did that happen… I tend to think they are still contemplating Oscar Dennis’ move to Australia, lol. Then the big one, HSBC World Series in Las Vegas and what a weekend it was for Kenya 7s, a blemish-less day one and the subsequent ‘mockery’ of the New Zealand’s All blacks.Allow me to say; ‘We’ thwarted that Island team 22-o, denied them arguably 80% of possession, forced turnovers and pushed to the edge to make mistakes, that was some sublime play by the Shujaaz. The internet was awash with all sorts of praise for the boys, we mad fun of New Zealand all night but we forgot one thing… that win didn’t give us a cup.
We got to the quarters lost to Mike Friday’s USA 7s-“well, its Mike Friday he is equally as strong“, we assumed… quick into the Plates semis we got paired against Japan and we lost. For a moment, the crowd that was making a mockery of New Zealand, me include, went silent. Perhaps by the disbelief or plain shame, at that juncture you realize we haven’t won anything and Las Vegas is over- Let’s assume Humprey’s 150th try and the closer Injera is to making a milestone, please. We have become better, yes! We are more competitive, yes! We have depth in the squad, yes! we have a winning mentality, yes- but I tend to think at times our winning mentality ends with beating the so called ‘Big teams’, we even forget we are too are in that category. I would so go on with this banter but to cut it short… If anyone from the 7s outfit is reading this, if you can beat a World champ you deserve to bring back home a cup besides the pride.
All hope is not lost though, the hunt is on Kenya 7s.
Week 14 review
Last week I hosted sentiments by one Vanessa Okara, a staunch Quins fan and we placed our two cents on four matches, out of the seven (Kenya Cup round 14 & Vanessa’s thoughts) , here is how they played out:
Strathmore Leos got served a cold plate by KCB, 31-14 contrary to the upset they staged in round 4. Impala Saracens extended their lead in the table with a 31-14 win over a resurgent Kabras Sugar side, Homeboyz rugby traveled to Western Kenya and beat Western Bulls 24-3 whilst in the Rift Valley Mwamba managed to scrap off 6 points against the 37 Nakuru had registered. Kenya Harlequins won 103-0 against Sharks, Thika drew with Mean Machine 3-3 while the highlight of the day and possibly the upset of the season was Blakblad’s 17-5 win over Nondescripts.
Kenya Cup week 15 and a touch of Vuyo zangqa (Former Kenya 7s coach)
This week, as had promised to feature former Kenya Sevens coach, Vuyo Zangqa; yes, him of the South African trio- together with Paul Treu and SC specialists Graham Bentz.
They had a clouded tenure mixed with glimpses of positive pulses but its their exit from the local rugby fraternity that really saddens me at times… but that aside now things are moving up and on-wards for them.I got in touch with the once upon a time Blitzboke & our former coach Vuyo Zangqa; engaged him in a few questions regarding the local rugby scene, the Kenya 7s in Las Vegas and he also diced his sentiments on four of the seven round 15 Kenya cup games. See what he had to say:
- How would you sum up your experience in Kenya- the culture, food; your interaction with the people et cetera ?
Vuyo: The Kenyan culture is a very interesting one compared to where I come from (South Africa). Kenyans are more laid back whereas in South Africa we are more energetic. The local food was good especially the Nyama choma, in SA we are more lamb and beef eaters. I got a long with most of the people that I met and we still chat with them on social media (platforms).
- While working with the Kenya Sevens, how would you quantify the our resource in terms of rugby talent, how immense or insufficient is it?
Vuyo: Kenya has a very limited pool of quality or if I must say, talent players. It is enough though, to keep pushing the boundaries especially against the well known rugby unions. I definitely think the rugby union should be looking at developing the game more at grass root level and even thinking of up skilling the local coaches.
- What structures do you think need to be put in place (by our union) to tap the talent pool in the country?
Vuyo: Investing in proper facilities, up skilling local coaches like I said in my previous answer and also looking at starting proper structures for the junior level rugby
- During your tenure at Kenya Sevens, alongside then HC- Paul Treu and SC- Graham Bentz, what goals or objectives did you achieve and which did you not- be it on & off pitch?
Vuyo: It’s a very difficult question to answer as our main purpose was Olympics and we never got to go there. We did however change a few things in the structure and its good to see the players are implementing (them) from time to time.
- On a scale of 1-7 how would you rate the Kenya Sevens after Las Vegas?
Vuyo: 4/7 I would say, for Kenya to beat the All Blacks the way they didi and then go and loose to USA, Japan is unacceptable. They should have taken that momentum from that game forward. They didn’t start well against Russia but picked up as the tournament was aging. The players need to put a lot of value in that jersey to avoid being inconsistent. It’s almost like they felt their tournament was done after they beat NZ (New Zealand).
- Finally, you must have watched the Kenya Cup during your stay in the country; we are heading to round 15 of the Kenya Cup, out of the 7 fixtures how about you pick a match winner in 4 fixtures?
Vuyo: Homeboyz win (against Blakblad), Kenya Harlequins win (against Mwamba RFC), Strathmore Leos win (against Nondescripts) & KCB win ( against Impala).
From Vuyo’s insight, I’ve picked up a few points to nail down:
We are sublime at matters food, I think we have the best Nyama Choma in Africa, Ombachi Dennis asanti sana! We are fond of relaxing, he said we are laid back, right? I mean, with all the parties… Our coaches need more training (professional) and to grow the sport in the country we should improve our facilities- yes, we need more than just one ground for rugby- and of course improve junior level participation.
On to Round 15…
It’s only 5 weekends away from the play offs berth and i can bet you teams will be playing tooth and nail, nickel and a dime to ensure they qualify for the last eight. But chaps looking at the standings, the real battle will be between teams placed between position 9 to 11th … it imminent that Bungoma Sharks are tiding up their farewell party unless so far. Look keenly, there is a battle for the top 5 finish with teams adrift each other on an average 4 points.
Mwamba RFC vs Kenya Harlequins
Fifth placed Mwamba host the third placed Quins of Ngong Road at Rail ways club, and while Kulabu asked their faithfuls to check in with their tea flasks, baking the ‘Quin cakes’ wont be easy.Quins lie just 5 points adrift Impala and are looking for all points to edge out KCB from second placed. Sorry Lavin, Vuyo Zangqa sentiments are winning this one… +8 to Quins
Strathmore Leos vs Nondescripts
The red lion is aging and probably tired of hunting game meat as of last weekend when they settled for a beating from Blakblad. That to me would have been their redemption weekend but they squashed it already and now they face a real stumbling block against Leos.Again I side with Vuyo Zangqa Strathmore Leos will win this, +10
KCB Rugby vs Resolution Impala Saracens
The Derby of the weekend here pitting the league leaders so far, Impala and their tail chasers KCB. Quick calculation here, even if the Bankers win this game Impala will still be at the top but what they will loose on is the pressure they will be setting themselves up for when the point gap is reduced.That wont be the ending the Saracens will wish to savor, but again i repeat for the up-teeth time: There is every motivation for the second placed team to go up.
Hard one to predict, but i would differ with Vuyo’s pick … Impala will win this game +8.
Bungoma Sharks vs Western Bulls
The Sharks have been on the receiving end much of the season and knowing the W’Bulls as being opportunistic at such moments, the hosts tribulations are yet to be over. Bulls are in to collect points in this game and i bet you they will ensure they do it, to the bonus. +10 to Bulls.
Kabras Sugar vs Mean Machine
Kabras got sticked last weekend just when they thought their troubles were over but lucky they, as they host a weaker Mean Machine side that surprisingly picked a draw against Thika last weekend. This is a sure win for the Sugar men, +15 to Kabras.
Thika Millars vs Top Fry Nakuru & Blakblad vs Menengai Cream Homeboyz
These two matches are way more one sided from the look of things than any other and its evident Vuyo Zangqa was right on his picks and I am obliged to agree, Nakuru and Homeboyz will each win the respective fixture +15 on average.
There goes my time, remember the Vancouver 7s that debuts this weekend in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series. Don’t forget to cheer the Shujaaz on to a cup win this time round. Whatever happened to Chiefs against the Lions down at Super Rugby…anyway #TwendeGameTujengeGame.