Kenya Sevens rugby team only won one match to collect four points as they finished 13th overall in the opening leg of the 2019/2020 World Rugby Series in Dubai on Saturday, losing their pool matches against Dubai Sevens eventual winners South Africa (17-12), third-placed England (12-5) and Spain 22-19.
They could have been unlucky to lose to South Africa and England in a competitive pool but considering the results, Paul Feeney’s charges ought to have done better against Spain.
They beat Scotland 24-14 in the playoffs, but then, the core South Africa team that lost to Kenya’s second side Morans made it to Dubai.
Well, Kenya had a somewhat better outing than last year, when they managed just a point. But this year’s format has changed.
The top two teams in the pool now move to the main Cup quarter finals with the rest meeting in a one-off classification battle — unlike in the Challenge or Shield competitions.
The conditions in the training camp are much better now with Feeney having the liberty of a big pool to pick from, unlike last year when senior players stayed away after shunning revised contracts.
Furthermore, the government has finally released the Sh79 million for offsetting the players’ allowance and salary arrears, among other things. Other national rugby teams should also benefit.
The team will now be under pressure for the remainder of the Series.
Besides, it will take part at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games on the backdrop of a poor show at the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning the Singapore Sevens months before.
Kenya Rugby Union should not entirely depend on the government to fund the national teams’ programmes.
Let it step up its marketing and enhance transparency and accountability to woo back corporate sponsors and tap talent from across the country.