The London Sevens leg slated for 25th and 26th May is the next chance Shujaa have to redeem their fortunes. The team that was revered globally in rugby circles has performed poorly this season with a few aspects contributing to the poor form.
As the season commenced, the terrible results portrayed by Shujaa were blamed on lack of a majority of players. Shujaa played the first six legs of the season without senior players and hence registering poor performances. The senior players had boycotted training and matches allegedly because of low pay.
The senior players came to an agreement with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) before the Hong Kong sevens. They were therefore available for selection for the Hong Kong Sevens but coach Paul Murunga opted to only pick seven players from the lot that had boycotted training and matches.
Even after the senior players returned, Shujaa performances showed no sign of improving hinting that the problem might not be the absence of senior players. Arguably though, maybe the players needed time to find the chemistry they had in the previous season.
Since the Singapore sevens which immediately followed the Hong Kong leg, players have had time to train together for the forthcoming London Sevens. Kenyan fans are hoping that the team’s performance will somehow match performances in previous HSBC seasons.
Even though Paul Murunga included some senior players in the squad for Singapore and Hong Kong Sevens, other big-name players were not included. Perhaps its time for the tactician to think about bringing back to the squad the likes of Willy Ambaka, Samuel Oliech and Brian Tanga.
After negotiations between the senior players and the Union were done, the three (Ambaka, Oliech and Tanga) did not come back to training. Maybe they did not find the specifics of the negotiations satisfying enough for them to return.
It has reached a point that the Union needs to swallow its ego and look into the demands of the players. Shujaa sure needs the services of these players to salvage their fortunes. The team might be narrowly surviving the relegation threat but comfortable moving away from the red zone should be the priority.
Apart from fighting to get further away from the bottom, Shujaa ought to fight for its name too. Kenyan rugby should conform to the respect it gets globally.