Age Group rugby shows glimpses of top talent, after Safari Sevens show
The 23rd edition of the Safari Sevens tournament highlighted tremendous growth in age group rugby in the country when a total of 45 teams turned up at the Nyayo National Stadium last weekend.
On Friday, at the start of the tournament, the juniors had been allowed half a day before the veterans took over in the afternoon but the age grade organisers were baffled by the unexpected turn out and forced a review of the event to accommodate all the teams.
The growth of age grade rugby in the country has been the result of coordinated aggressive work done at the grassroots level within counties.
It is a combined effort by World Rugby and Kenya Rugby Union to ensure more players get into rugby at a younger age.
A total of 25 under-14 teams and a total of 20 under-12 teams contested for the honours.
“In my 14 years of working in rugby development, I am happy to see such a big crowd of players aged 14 years and below turn up to enjoy the sport of rugby just after a return to play following Covid-19 restrictions,” said Nairobi region Rugby Development Officer and Safari Sevens age grade tournament director Blessed Lemok.
“To us this was truly a festival because age grade has finally been given the right emphasis and players came to the stadium,” he added.
Fellow tournament director Sarah Achieng is now optimistic age grade rugby will shake off the corona pandemic and get back to its growth path after players from all over the country showed up for the day’s event.
“It’s very encouraging to see players from South Coast (Likoni), Nanyuki and Kajiado travel to compete in a half-a-day event.
Most of the kids were very excited to step in a national stadium and compete on the same grounds their role models in Kenya Shujaa, Morans and Lionesses were also competing on,” said Achieng.
Turning up for their first ever rugby competition was Oloishobor Primary School from Kajiado County where in under five months being introduced into the game, their coach and teacher Joel Sike lead them to their historic tour.
“We are happy to finally take part in our first competition. The kids are excited and I am sure the sport will become popular not only in the school but the county as well,” Sike told People Sport.