As Kenya 7s rejoins World SVNs Series, player welfare must be addressed by KRU

Kenya 7s captain joins other Captains in HSBC SVNs shoot. PHOTO/World Rugby

When John Okoth scored the third try for Kenya 7s against Germany, I was confident the team was headed back to the World SVNs Series.

Tries by George Ooro and Kevin Wekesa secured the victory over Germany and marked Kenya’s return to the top tier.

Kenya 7s  teams challenges

As social media buzzed with celebration and praise for the team, I reflected on the challenges and triumphs Kenya Rugby has faced over the past year.

Kenya 7s players celebrate in CHallenger Series. PHOTO/Rugby Afrique

Kenya 7s players celebrate in Challenger Series. PHOTO/Rugby Afrique

One key conclusion is that the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) must prioritize improving player welfare if they want the team to remain competitive. We cannot afford to re-enter the World 7s Series without addressing proper player welfare.

Recent months have been plagued with controversy, particularly concerning player remuneration and welfare. Reports have surfaced about national team players not receiving their Safari 7s allowances, teams cutting short training sessions due to a lack of food in the camp, Kenya Lionesses going unpaid for months, and the Lionesses even going on a go-slow before crucial Rugby Africa match.

I understand that the Union would have preferred to keep these issues private, but the players had endured enough. The truth inevitably came out, highlighted during the Rugby Super Series when the Rhinos refused to take the pitch in protest over unpaid allowances, while the match was broadcast live on national television. This incident was an embarrassment to the rugby community and sponsors.


If these issues aren’t addressed, we risk reaching a point where players will no longer be willing to play for the badge.

It is the players who have been putting their bodies on the line since this new chapter of Kenya 7s began.

These players have been the ones sweating in training, grinding in the gym, and pushing themselves day in and day out. Many have had to balance school, club commitments, and national team duties.

We saw Patrick Odongo play with a smile despite his mother passing away during the Africa Men’s 7s, where Kenya qualified for the Olympic Games against the odds by defeating South Africa. Odongo also maintained his resolve even when his father was hospitalized. Such dedication deserves recognition and reward, especially when the team’s fortunes improve.

Most of the players are young, many still in university, and a few have just graduated. We can enhance their lives and make them cherish their time with the national team. This will revive their passion for representing Kenya and inspire future generations to aspire to play for the national team, reminiscent of the days of the Emonyi brothers, Collins Injera, Humphrey Kayange, and the Simiyu brothers.

Kenya 7s player Patrick Odongo scorers. PHOTO /Mike Lee

Kenya 7s player Patrick Odongo scorers. PHOTO /Mike Lee/ for World Rugby

When the team was relegated in 2023, the KRU chairman Sasha Mutai revealed they would lose Ksh38 million from the World 7s Series. Now that they are back, that funding will return.

While this may not fully cover the costs of running 7s operations with Gangla Oduor revealing National Team need atleast 100 Million per (that was in 2020),  being back in the series provides the Union with better leverage to attract sponsors. It’s the ideal time to negotiate with Sportpesa for increased shirt sponsorship up from 42 million and seek additional sponsors for the back and shorts.

If this money comes through, it should be invested in improving player remuneration, allowances, training facilities, and insurance.

Sponsors would be coming on board because of the players’ efforts, and they should be the first to benefit.

The writer is the Founder of Scrummage Africa (Scrummage.co.ke), the leading rugby news website.

You can email us you opinions on matters rugby via email (Scrummageafrica@gmail.com)

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