Safari Sevens lacked spark
Kenya’s Shujaa won this year’s Safaricom Sevens tournament against Australian Renegades; who exactly are those?
Your guess is as good as mine.
For those who attended the tournament held at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani there was a déjà vu feeling when Kenya Harlequins took to the pitch to play Homeboys, or when KCB were beaten by Mwamba or when Kenya Morans had to fight for a win against Western Bulls.
Well, chances are the faces that were on the pitch were the same ones that played the just concluded National Sevens Circuit.
There were 10 local teams in the 20-team tournament.
Despite an almost flawlessly organised tournament, things just appeared to work against the Safaricom Sevens over the weekend at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Declines from top sides like Fiji, South Africa, and Bristol, among others, heavily watered down the profile, however this was not enough to discourage fans from attending the first edition held at Kasarani.
Then came the inadequate transport to and from the venue, which forced majority of fans to take public means.
Their disappointment was heightened when they were forced to walk over a kilometre to Gate 5 to enter the stadium.
Just as most had accepted the situation, the attack on Westgate Mall had a direct impact on the attendance on Day Three of the event.
Many chose to stay in the comfort of their home in fear of another attack, while others chose to line up at Kencom in the CBD to donate blood.
Sunday’s attendance has been projected at just under 20,000 by KRU Vice Chairman Sasha Mutai.
“We are still crunching up the figures but we missed close to 10,000 fans from Saturday owing to the Westgate siege,” he says.
The organisers were also forced to end the Day Three events early, with the main cup final between Kenya Shujaa and Australia Renegades being played at 5pm, instead of the scheduled 8.30pm.
The siege also cost the tournament its highest profile participants, England Royals, who were ordered back to England after the Queen requested the government to evacuate the team.
Many had already expressed their dissatisfaction at the lack of high profile teams.
Kenya’s biggest fan base, the Ministry of Rugby, occupied the lower deck of Stand 13, and openly expressed their disappointment at the organising committee’s chairman, Godwin Karuga, every time he walked across the tracks.
For the first time in almost 10 years, there was no core team from the IRB World Sevens Series. South Africa’s Elite Development Squad and England’s Bristol University also skipped the tournament for the first time since its inception.
The organisation of the tournament has however received rave reviews, as security was beyond expectations, with everything from food to entertainment being adequately provided within the stadium.
The entertainment rota was rather impressive, with Kidum, Sauti Sol among others making the post game concert worth attending.