This past weekend saw the Central Rift Valley town of Nakuru play host to the second leg of the Western Union National Sevens Circuit, the Prinsloo Sevens at the Nakuru Athletic Club. Twenty four teams took part, all gunning for the main prize, the Prinsloo Sevens main cup title which came with 30 National Sevens Circuit points to boot. Here is look back at the event.
No upsets on day one
The main actors led by defending champions Strathmore Leos and tournament hosts Nakuru RFC qualified for the main cup quarter finals without breaking a sweat. This was reflected in the high scores that they managed to put past their opponents on day one. Other quarter finalists Impala, Mwamba and Homeboyz registered the biggest victories, each putting 57 points against their opponents. KCB, Mean Machine and Quins completed the list of qualifiers.
There were also some brave performances from perceived minnows in the form of Rwandese side, Silverbacks and Mtaa Select, a collection of players from various neighborhoods in Nairobi. Mtaa would finish second in their pool, winning two of their three fixtures on day one, only missing out on main cup quarter final action due to an inferior aggregate score.
Eric Situma, speaking more about Mtaa said, "The idea behind Mtaa is to more or less open up the space…we have a limited number of clubs participating in rugby. They tend to be very formal, very structured. We are trying to tap into that pool of players who ideally cannot train every so often but still have the talent to play. This kind of set up will allow players to train once a week and participate probably once in a month in various tournaments all over the country. From their tournaments, be it in Nairobi or Kisumu, we'll pick the best players and try to expose them in the mainstream arena."
"In terms of their performance, we are very impressed. They finished second in their pool, winning two matches and losing honorably against Quins. I think they're on the right track. We want to fast track this concept and rope in other towns. We hope to send a Nakuru Mtaa Select to the Dala Sevens...its logistically easier...and will give the idea of Mtaa rugby in Nakuru the much needed impetus. We also hope to see a Mtaa team in Mombasa just within this circuit. There are immediate plans to have it rolled out regionally."
The Prinsloo Shield quarter finals kicked off day two action with Mombasa and Webuye eventually meeting in the title match. The coastal side rewarded for their long journey with a 31-7 win in the final.
Christie Sevens plate finalists, Kisumu RFC were also unlucky not to make the main cup quarters, finishing second in Pool F behind KCB but missing out due to an inferior points aggregate. They would atone for their disappointment by edging out Kenyatta University's Blak Blad 14-12, taking home the Prinsloo Bowl.
Strathmore knocked out, big guns march on
Defending Prinsloo Sevens champions Strathmore were paired against tournament hosts Nakuru in the quarter final match. Bernard Chirchir's early try as well as Gibson Weru's try and two conversions saw the home side register a 14-0 result, marching on to the semis. Strathmore would drop to the plate where they beat KCB 10-5 in the final.
Mwamba would survive a grueling encounter against KCB, winning this bruising encounter 24-12. The sides were 12-12 at the interval, two late tries from Mwamba eventually earning them a semi final berth against Impala who outmuscled Homeboyz RFC 25-7.
Quins beat Mean Machine 29-0 to book a semi final berth against Nakuru.
Closely contested semis
The Prinsloo Sevens main cup semis were a carbon copy of the Christie Sevens semis with Nakuru facing Quins and Impala up against Mwamba. Whereas day one had witnessed a flurry of tries, day two was turning out to be a much closer affair.
Nakuru would race to a 10-0 lead over Quins, courtesy of tries from Gibson Weru and Larry Safari. They had been dominant in the one on one tackles and made use of that extra inch of pace but allowed Quins to get back, Sidney Ashioya scoring and converting his try right on the stroke of half time. An unconverted try in early second half saw Quins hold out for a 12-10 win.
Nato Simiyu's eye for the gap saw him slice through the Mwamba defense before scoring an unconverted try at the corner. Humphrey Kayange brought Mwamba level before Kevin Wambua converted for a 7-5 Mwamba lead.
Nato would play in Innocent Simiyu to score under the posts. Nato's conversion gave Impala a 12-7 lead, a lead they carried into the half time break.
Impala would continue to have the upper hand in the second half but were punished by Edgar Abere who played in Kayange to score under the posts. Wambua's conversion gave Mwamba a 14-12 lead, a lead they held to the end.
Horace Otieno's redemption
Mwamba and Kenya Sevens player Horace Otieno must have rued his unforced error that gifted Quins the equalizer during the Christie Sevens final in Nairobi. He must have been waiting for a chance to redeem himself and this opportunity presented itself when Mwamba were up against Quins for the Prinsloo Sevens main cup title.
Both teams approached this clash at a somewhat frenetic pace. Mwamba were the first to settle down and Otieno must have felt some sense of justice when his try put the black shirts ahead. Wambua's conversion putting Mwamba 7-0 ahead. He must felt on cloud nine when he seized the opportunity to stretch the lead, touching down for his brace as Mwamba lead 12-0. A Victor Sudi try on the stroke of half time cut the deficit to 12-5, making for a closely contested second half. Quins got a second try through Wilson K'Opondo, 12-10 and the game was finely poised. Steve Okeyo put some daylight between Mwamba and Quins, scoring a late try, capping a 17-10 victory for Mwamba.
The Western Union National Sevens Circuit continues from Saturday 4th September 2010 with the third leg, the Dala Sevens taking place at the Kisumu Polytechnic grounds in Kisumu.