Kenya’s rugby sevens team, Shujaa, are bracing themselves for a tough battle to improve their standings in the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) series. The Las Vegas Sevens, slated for 1st to 3rd March, promises to be a hard task for the Kenyan team as it has been placed against the big boys USA, France and Argentina in group B, variously being termed the group of death.
Shujaa, who played both Hamilton Sevens and Sydney Sevens without key players, are more likely to do without them again. Outgoing Kenya Rugby Union Chairman, Richard Omwela, has refused to review the players’ contracts and instead replaced them with new comers who, despite being talented, lack the experience of playing on the global arena.
Currently 13th in the 17-team HSBC standings, the players will be playing their hearts out to improve not only to improve its position but also restore hope among fans and sponsors.
Collins Injera, Andrew Amonde, Willy Ambaka, Dennis Ombachi, Sammy Oliech, Nelson Oyoo, Billy Odhiambo and Dan Sikuta have all not played this season in the series and are unlikely to do so unless their contracts are reviewed.
Even with contract issues plaguing them, the Rugby fans and players have Bidco Africa to thank for the sponsorship, which has enabled them honour their appointments since November 2017 when the consumer goods manufacturer was unveiled as the official back-of-the-shirt sponsor of the team for three years.
Under the sponsorship deal, the national rugby sevens team managed to play all the 10 competitions of the 2017-2018 World Rugby Series, the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, wearing the Bidco Africa insignia on the back of their jerseys.
Shujaa have been pooled with top teams which gives them a chance to cause an upset and enhance their reputation of stopping giants. Kenya Sevens met with both France and Argentina in the Sydney sevens narrowly losing against Argentina but also escaping with a narrow victory against France. In the Hamilton Sevens, Shujaa won against France, while USA thrashed Kenyans 41-0 in the Sydney Sevens.