NAIROBI, Kenya, January 28- The national rugby sevens team was holed up in South Africa for almost 48 hours after missing their connecting flight from Johannesburg.
Kenya Rugby Union chairman, Mwangi Muthee, explained to Capital Sport that a technical problem with the aircraft that was to fly the team from Nairobi to Johannesburg saw them fail to make it in time to catch their onward journey to Australia with the plane being brought back to Nairobi for repairs.
“We can only pray for the team because this is not good and could affect their performance. They were treated well in South Africa and booked to the Sun and Sand resort where they trained. These things can happen to any airline and we are happy with KQ.
“There is only one flight from Johannesburg to Australia and after delaying here on Friday, they missed it and the one for the next day was fully booked. They have now left and we expect them to arrive in New Zealand,” Muthee told.
Mike Friday’s outfit are expected to reach their final destination on Monday night ahead of the weekend Wellington Sevens.
“All our competitors have prepared properly and been in New Zealand for at least 36 hours including Argentina and France. Tonga are in camp in Auckland,” the disappointed coach said.
The travelling nightmare began on Friday when team sponsors and official airline Kenya Airways cancelled their flight twice on what was explained as ‘technical problems’ forcing the team to leave at 4pm before they were put up in a hotel.
Capital Sport’s effort to contact the airline’s communication officials did not bear fruit by the time of posting this article.
Friday’s side are the only squad with jet lag protocol not to have arrived in the country on schedule raising fears that the long delay could hamper their charge.
“I can’t say the level of jetlag that will affect them but we need to get them here first. However, the jet lag is far greater with New Zealand being three hours further ahead, yet the squad arrives a day later and the tournament being a day earlier,” Friday added.
Kenya play France in the opening match on Friday before taking on Argentina and Tonga to wrap their Group B pool fixtures.
Friday’s squad are sixth in the IRB World Series standings on 37 points having failed to match their Gold Coast and Dubai Main Cup semi runs in the last leg at Port Elizabeth.
“They are physically at a real disadvantage at kick off. With most matches having just a score in it it’s the little margins that make the difference. This is more than a little margin and not in our favour,” the coach explained while remaining optimistic they would achieve positive results despite the travelling hiccups.
The team’s travelling plans were also marred in the opening leg of the series in Australia.