Kenya will be participating in the South African annual rugby union competition for the second time, having debuted last season and Union boss Mwangi Muthee confirmed Thursday they have received invitation from the South African Rugby Union (SARU) but called on local club chairmen to rally behind the initiative to have a piece of the action here.
The Vodacom Cup is the third most prestigious competition in South Africa after Super Rugby and Curry Cup.
“We are in negotiation with SARU to request them instead of playing our home games in Cape Town, we host them here at home and if they give us that opportunity, it will be a huge boost to our strategy of developing Kenya 15s. We are on the right track because SARU’s response is positive,” Muthee announced when launching this season’s domestic top flight league Kenya Cup that gets underway this weekend.
Muthee added SARU has also opened a way for Kenya to compete in South Africa’s rugby top tier the Curry Cup first Division but the Union is yet to decide on entry.
“Any time we are given an opportunity we should grasp it because it comes once in a lifetime. We should not let the golden chance of developing the game slip away because there is no hiding place; we must go out there and work to expose our players and they will be as good as Kenya 7s.
“We must make sure we take our national 15s to the world stage and the channel that we should not lose at any cost is coming with a way on how we will play in the Vodacom Cup and Curry Cup so that finally we will be playing in the Super Rugby to gain Test nation status,” Muthee explained.
Kenya, who won only once in their preliminary fixtures at last year’s Vodacom Cup, will once again play in Southern Section alongside Eastern Province Kings, South Western Districts Eagles, Border Bulldogs, Regent Boland Cavaliers, Western Province, Cell C Sharks and Free State.
The team will use the tournament as preparations to reclaim the continental crown they lost last year in Madagascar to Namibia.
-2014-15 Kenya Cup launched-
At the same, KRU has introduced a new concept in this season’s Kenya Cup that will see the top placed team at the close of the league host the semi-finals.
“We will also have double headers for the first time where we will have four fixtures at the same venue in a day starting with two Eric Shirley Shield games then followed by two Kenya Cup matches.
“We are hoping to attract crowds to pull in sponsors because the league is going to be very competitive this season. The promoted teams Catholic and Kabras Sugar who have recruited good players are not push overs,” Kenya Cup Club Chairman Simpson Osiemo declared.
KRU is looking forward to improve the game next year where they intend to make it played on a home and way basis.
With sources indicating Kenya has lost her bid to host one of the International Rugby Board HSBC Sevens World Series, Muthee termed it an eye opener since it enabled the Government to rekindle interest a purpose built rugby Stadium.
“Nothing is lost, we have learned a lot. Through the bid, the Government has committed to build a purpose stadium for Rugby that will put us in good position for a future bid of hosting a World Sevens Series so we keep on hoping one of these days our game is going to be at par with the rest in the world.”
Singapore, Vancouver (Canada) and Paris (France) are the likely candidates to replace Tokyo (Japan), Las Vegas (USA) and Glasgow (Scotland).