Rugby Rugby

NOC-K concerned as KRU summons 7s team

Kenya national 7s team in action against Australia at the HSBC World Series. PHOTO/File
Kenya national 7s team in action against Australia at the HSBC World Series. PHOTO/File

NAIROBI, August 4- Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) met members of the national sevens team for a disciplinary hearing Tuesday ahead of expected radical changes to the side’s set-up.

The team has been in disarray for the past month after the Union, technical bench and players clashed over unpaid salary arrears and bonuses with the squad that is seeded top of the November Africa Olympics Qualifiers downing their tools in protest.

On their side, the governing body elected to allow the contracts of head coach, Felix Ochieng and senior players run out on July 31 to renegotiate terms afresh, with mass casualties anticipated ahead of the new season.

“We want to make an informed decision, one that takes the interest of the game in the long term into account. So we will let the processes at the union run and once we have reached a decision we will communicate the same,” Ian Mugambi, a director at KRU told Capital Sport.

Speaking separately, Team Manager, Steve Sewe, whose job is also on the line, informed this website they were summoned to the Union headquarters to face a disciplinary hearing after the national 15s team was announced earlier in the morning.

“I’m no longer allowed to comment on matters relating to the national team or the players,” he added.

The National Olympics Committee-Kenya (Noc-k) who are banking on the sevens outfit to represent the nation at next summer’s Rio Games expressed grave concerns over the stand-off.

“I urge the Union to put their house in order. The Qualification process is important and they should put enough effort to it and ensure the team goes through.

“As time approaches, we are banking on rugby sevens to qualify. It is the first time rugby will be at the Summer Olympics programme and representation by our team will give other team sports. They need to get adequate exposure,” Kenya’s Chef-de-Mission to Rio Olympics, Stephen Soi stated.

He emphasised part of the huge Sh542m budget they announced for the entire Team Kenya last week during the launch of the Road to Rio fundraising drive was meant to adequately cater for the team in preparation but they had to qualify first.

“We had factored rugby sevens, women’s volleyball and women’s football team in our plan for Rio. The football girls are out leaving rugby and volleyball and we wish them all the best,” the Noc-k Executive Officer added.

The players went on strike for the second time since last December on July 10 protesting over unpaid dues and failure to be provided basic training facilities.

During the press call announcing the training boycott, Sewe was flanked by assistant coach, Vuyo Zangqa, strength and conditioning coach, Graham Bentz, skipper Andrew Amonde, Kenya’s all time try top scorer Collins Injera, his elder brother Humphrey Kayange and seasoned Patrice Agunda.

“In 2011 the KRU undertook a commitment to transform the national 7s training program into a high performance system. Key to this was the establishment of a player centred coach led system which placed welfare as the top priority,” the long-serving Team Manager said at the time.

The Union accuses team members of maintaining hard-line positions in face of proposed radical chances to the squad with Zangqa and Bentz the only personnel in the squad assured of an August pay cheque since their contract runs out September next year.