Michael Kwambo reports on the successful 2011 Safaricom Sevens this past weekend.
The 16th Safaricom Sevens event was a great tournament again last weekend.
Despite a change in venue from the RFUEA Grounds which has hosted the tournament since its inception in 1996 to the Nyayo National Stadium, the 2011 Safaricom Sevens was as exciting and colorful as ever.
To be sure afterwards, members of the Safaricom Sevens Organizing Committee had a glint in their eyes, some shedding tears of joy, others in stunned silence. Shifting the tournament to a new venue and with new dates posed a number of challenges and the end result brought collective smiles to the team that was involved in getting this tournament up and running. It was no mean feat drawing massive crowds to the Nyayo National Stadium but it happened. Over 19,000 fans on Sunday a testament to this.
Samoa were deserved winners at the Nyayo Stadium.
Their authoritative 31-12 march to the Robin Cahill Trophy was just reward for their breathtaking display of rugby throughout the weekend. Samurai, their opponents in the final, were laden with a heavy sprinkling of Fijian international sevens rugby players who were looking to complete a perfect weekend but in all fairness they had several lapses in concentration and blunders of good judgment in the final that allowed the Steve Betham coached side to lift their first title since their maiden appearance in 2005.
It was still a great final, keeping with other recent ones (In 2010 Kenya edged the Emerging Boks 17-12 in sudden death under the driving rain at the RFUEA grounds. A memorable game) the 2011 final deserves to be included in the same category of greatness.
Hosts Kenya, fielding a young team, outdid themselves in reaching the semi finals of the main cup competition at their home tournament. Their 29-12 loss to Samurai sending them back to the drawing board with many positives picked up from their run in the tournament. They will surely regroup and emerge stronger ahead of the HSBC Sevens World Series that kicks off in under a fortnight.
In summary the staging of the 16th Safaricom Sevens at the Nyayo National Stadium, long associated with Kenya football was a superb event in every way. The tournament was a celebration of rugby and everybody involved contributed in creating the electric, carnival atmosphere that prevailed over the stadium for three days from Nov 4 to Nov 6. The traveling fans from Nakuru stood out with their clinical officer costumes. The Ministry of Rugby fans were not to be left out either, huddled together in the “Russia” side of the stadium in their brightly colored t-shirts. Maybe the culture of organized fan groups in costumes can be inculcated into the mindsets of rugby fans, setting precedent for a unique Safaricom Sevens and general rugby cheering and support culture in Kenya.
There were many other favorites; like the Galitos cheering party and the group of “Isikuti” drummers whose tunes reverberated throughout the Nyayo National Stadium, giving this tournament a unique, African feel. That famous soundtrack played at the Dubai Sevens was incorporated into the tournament’s public address system and played a great role in getting the fans involved in the matches, providing for an excellent atmosphere.
Fans in the diaspora did not miss out on the action as the match was broadcast live on satellite television and streamed online. Fans in the stadium were also able to watch the action live on the electronic score board which doubled up as a screen. Saturday’s action under the Nyayo Stadium floodlights brought more color to this tournament.
Samoa’s performance of the Haka upon winning the title for the second time brought the curtains down on what was a thrilling Safaricom Sevens tournament.
Safaricom Sevens Collated Final Day Results
Samoa 31 Samurai 12
Kenya 12 Samurai 29
Samoa 19 Emerging Boks 10
Kenya 12 Auckland 7,
Samurai 17 Spain 0,
Samoa 34 Spain5,
Emerging Boks 24 Grenoble 14.
Auckland Vikings 29 Zimbabwe 12
Auckland 19 Spain 14
Zimbabwe 19 Grenoble 14
Bristol University Select 14 Belmont Shore 17;
Bristol Univ. 26 Royal Welsh 7
Belmont 28 Mwamba 7
Uganda 0 Bristol Uni. 19
Royal Welsh 7 Goshawks 5
Belmont 52 Tanzania 0
Mwamba 19 Rwanda 5
Uganda 31 Rwanda 0
Uganda 21 Goshawks 5
Tanzania 12 Rwanda 28
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