NAIROBI, November 8, 2016 – Kenya Airways has confirmed it will not be renewing its contract with the Kenya Rugby Union to sponsor the Kenya Sevens team when the current deal expires at the end of November.
Mid October, KRU Chairman Richard Omwela told Capital Sport they were not expecting the national carrier to renew their deal first signed in 2010 owing to their financial struggles and insinuated local betting firm Sportpesa will take over as the team’s shirt sponsors.
“We would have loved Kenya Airways to continue because we have had a very good partnership with them. But if you look at the papers every day, their focus is to stay in the air and not to play rugby so we don’t see them coming back on board,” Omwela said then.
And now, KQ which is strategizing its way back to the top has confirmed that indeed they will not spend a shilling more of the Sh900mn they have already poured to the team in six years after November 31.
“We are proud of how far the sport has come with global interest in the Kenya team’s participation in the sevens series rising by the day and appreciate the determination of our sports personalities which has cemented Kenya’s position in the top tier of the WRS circuit,” Kenya Airways Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mbuvi Ngunze said while making the announcement, but assured that “Kenya Airways remains committed to supporting sports in Africa. We wish the team well in the upcoming World Rugby Series.”
In response, Omwela said they were grateful for the support Kenya Airways has accorded them, noting that they picked up sponsorship of the team when the union was struggling financially.
“We appreciate the constant support Kenya Airways has accorded us, the union, and the team over the years as we have worked together to see Kenya 7s grow from strength to strength. Through the years we have seen young players rise to be at the top of their game,” Omwela said.
During the sponsorship period, KQ saw the team achieve two finalist positions in the series and a final high of 99 points in the 2012-2013 ranking finishing in fifth place globally.
The team won a main cup in the Singapore leg of the series in April 2016 as well as qualifying for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
KRU signed a Sh0.6bn deal with Sportpesa earlier in the year and part of the money is expected to be channeled to the Sevens team starting from the season opening leg in Dubai on December 2.