Rugby Rugby

Ayimba urges change in Rugby 7s management


NAIROBI, Kenya, July 17- Former national sevens coach, Benjamin Ayimba has called on a radical shift in management to reverse the slide of the team that confirmed its fall from the top ten of IRB Series Standings in the 2011/2012 season.

The performance of the Kenyan marquee rugby export at the World Series saw the disbandment of the entire technical bench led by Ayimba’s successor, Mitch Ocholla in May with Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) naming former England’s 7s coach Mike Friday as his replacement.

New Zealand’s Christopher Brown was appointed the conditioning coach as the Union which faced a backlash over the poor performance that saw the side finish 12th in the standings (40 points), its lowest finish in five seasons since Kenyan broke into the World Series top ten. The pair are set to arrive and take over their duties at the end of the month.

“When you have disorganized preparations in the national team, expect the same to replicate in the tournament you are participating in.

“It all begins from the selection process before you begin the training schedule up to when you get to face your opponents, but this has been wanting in the recent past,” the former head coach who masterminded Kenya’s accent to the top of the international game when he took over in November 2006.

Ayimba feels that players’ motivation and job security is paramount for them to match up to expectations on the world stage particularly with Sevens World Cup due next year, a competition he led Kenya to the semifinals in 2009.

“We can’t keep disbanding teams every now and then; these are young lads who need to be assured of a definite future through some a proper remuneration structure.

“If we motivate them enough they will give their all without the fear of a backlash awaiting them upon their return,” he added as he differed with dismissal of the entire playing unit alongside the technical bench in KRU’s purge.

The two will liaise with Ocholla who has since been re-appointed as assistant head coach alongside Felix Ochieng and Tito Oduk.

Ayimba marked his most successful IRB season in 2008/2009 when Kenya finished sixth with 64 points having moved up from seventh (38) the previous campaign.

He was dismissed at the end of the 2010/2011 campaign when Kenya slipped to tenth ninth (16) when the Mwangi Muthee regime took over at the Union.

Ocholla’s attempt to restructure the team with new blood flopped spectacularly when Kenya failed to muster even a single point in their opening three World Series rounds before established hands were brought in mid-season to steady the ship.

Amid claims of player unrest over non-payment and opposition to the coaching methods preferred by the new management, the team wrapped up the series event on a low.

The national 15s team that has for long lagged behind the shorter version of the game returned from the Confederation of Africa Rugby (CAR) Cup where they lost the continental title after going down 19-21 to Uganda.

They recovered to beat Tunisia 31-14 in the play offs to remain in the top tier and set up a chance to be in the qualification for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015 but contrary to what Union officials asserted when they took over, the side’s fortunes are heading north.

Focus now shifts to the Victoria Cup where they will face off with Africa Champions Zimbabwe on July 28.

“We begin training on Friday in readiness for the upcoming assignment at the end of the month with emphasis on reclaiming the Cup.

“From our experience in the CAR, we will need to improve on conditioning and contact that were our biggest errors that cost us the semi with Uganda,” said team manager Wangila Simiyu.

The tie will be preceded by a repeat of the CAR Cup finals clash as between Zimbabwe host Uganda on July 21.