MOMBASA, Kenya, Sep 3- Kabras Sugar head coach Charles Cardovillis says he has been impressed with how his side has transformed in terms of play after taking charge of his first full tournament since his appointment towards the close of the Kenya Cup season in May.
The former Kenya Harlequins boss led the team to the Main Cup Quarters at the Sevens Circuit season opening Driftwood Sevens in Mombasa with a 100 percent record and he says he was pleased with the performance of his boys especially after progressing without conceding.
“What I am trying to bring to the team now is we can play rugby. We can now express ourselves and the boys can show that they have skills. Kabras has been known for aggressive, straight, route one, ‘tang tang’ rugby but you can see from today they can play attractive rugby, we can excite the crowd and that’s what it’s all about,” Cardovillis told Capital Sport after his side’s Day One performance.
The coach who joined the Western Kenya based team at the tail end of the Kenya Cup campaign where they reached the final losing to KCB hopes to translate the same form to 7s, adding he is confident they can be one of the toughest in the circuit.
“Last season we finished fifth and our target this season is that we want to win it. Of course we have to go tournament by tournament, and the good thing about Sevens is that this builds a platform for 15s. The same way we performed at 15s we can also be able to replicate it here,” the tactician further noted.
Kabras will face a tricky Menengai Oilers side in the Main Cup Quarters , the side coached by former Kenya Sevens and Nakuru RFC star Gibson Weru having beaten Mwamba and Kisii RFC to qualify to the last eight.
“I expect it tough tomorrow because playing the quarters is always tricky because it’s when you are waking and any day, it is whoever recovers quicker and plays the better rugby of the day that wins. Hopefully we will be able to pick up fast enough,” he further added.
At the same time, KCB who beat Kabras to both the Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup titles last season could not replicate that same form to sevens and head coach Dennis Mwanja has admitted that the players took too much time to transition from the longer version of the game.
The Bankers won their opening two games, but they just barely missed out on the Main Cup to drop into the Challenge Trophy after losing their final game, Mean Machine queuing ahead of them on points difference.
Mwanja admitted his side was erratic and his ‘star-studded’ squad failed to keep it together on the pitch.
“We’ve been erratic to adapt to sevens. We have a somehow star studded side with a lot of national team experience but we cannot convert that to the pitch. It was not the best show for us,” a dejected Mwanja said.
“Sevens is a different mode of play and it takes a lot of adaptation to get there. Last year we were plate specialists, this year we are looking at a couple of semis or winning some. We are keeping our goals very realistic. There’s no quick fix; we can’t automatically translate 15s into 7s because it is a different version of the game and anybody can play,” Mwanja further added.
He expects his side to vie for the eight points at stake in the Challenge Trophy where they Kisii RFC but moving forward he wants to see his charges improve.
“I cannot be so hard on the players, we have achieved a lot with them and I believe in their capabilities. I know with tweaking here and there we will get to our rightful position,” he added.
Overall boss Curtis Olago was also part of the team in Mombasa assisting Mwanja, and he angrily remonstrated with the players after they won by a slim margin to Mean Machine in an erratic display.
Meanwhile, Mwamba RFC are confident of bouncing back despite starting the season on a low failing to win even a single match, drawing one and losing two.
Head coach David Wambua says the team could not sparkle because they brought with them a young squad, missing most of their key players, some with injury while others are hard at work on pre-season with the national team.
Kulabu started off the day with a shocking 17-17 draw against Kisii RFC before another shocker, losing 14-0 to Menengai Oilers. They wound up the day with a 7-0 loss at the hands of Driftwood defending champions Kenya Harlequins but Wambua was pleased with the improvement shown.
“The boys have shown energy and this is work in progress. A bit of poor decisions, but noting we have played quality opposition like Quins, I think it was a good start. We are trying to balance; we are looking at the future. We have to give them time to gel, but we might see one or two experience inclusions for Kabeberi next weekend,” Wambua noted.
The team was inspired on the side with the presence of Lavin Asego, Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange and Wambua said the presence of the three star players was a motivator to the young squad.