I Impala Photos
Flooded Thrill & Return of Safari 7s
By Crispaus Onkoba | Fri 09 Nov, 2018 08:29
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It’s until I sat down at the media booth (it was basically a tent but anyway), it never occurred to me that the branders of Impala Saracens, Flood lit tournament – otherwise  referred to as Floodies, might have considered the rains whilst coming up with the name. 

Many a people, I included, closed the conversation at the thought of rugby under lights at night. When the raindrops pelted us and the grounds got soggy, we were stuck with silent hisses and murmurs as we cheer on teams through to the final whistle.

A witty lady passed this thought out at the media booth, I giggled and murmured a subtle ‘wow’. It had never crossed my mind…

That said, I have only managed to attend only two of the annual month long floodlit tournament. So evidently, I am not better placed to critique its success story (or otherwise) this far but assuming a ‘first time for everything’ principle, writing a few things about the 2018 Floodlit experience would not be a bad thing to do.

Seats for who?

This year was a huge success not to say last year’s was not but evidently there were trooping numbers at Impala Club throughout the three action packed weekends, unlike 2017- my first. 

Weeks earlier, I was convinced that crowd preferences had shifted from the traditional rugby sevens circuit spectacle to rugby fifteens (true anyway), a comparison carried off my judgment on the Elgon Cup vis-a-vis Christie 7s crowds. With that in mind, it was easy to comprehend such a turn out but, to consistently have such number for three consecutive weekends is no mean feat.

Point of concern for me though, and as such, this one cuts across all rugby venues in Kenya that fail at this end- seat stands. Why can’t we just build more stands for the fans? 

To me, this aligns as one of the biggest impediments for our sport in this country (add lands North of South Africa too) and as it stands the ‘rugby stadium’ song has not yet hit crescendo. Maybe we for so long have accepted status quo since and it doesn’t matter much now to the venue organizers anymore; ‘These guys will come watch yell or jubilate, ‘parambulate’ to the after party, drink beers and go, what seats?’

On to the pitch action 

Whatsoever the qualms about the draw were, yes I heard rumors, the fixtures were a thriller from the start. I was not present during the quarter-finals draw so I wouldn’t even question the likes of Mwamba vs KCB clash, who would have thought at half time scores would have been even.

That was a thriller, Kulabu brought game, up to the forty something minutes of the second half and I can accord a notable mention to Mwamba’s Brian Kivasia, he was a slicer off full back, if yard lines are anything to go by he was the master at accumulating them. Both teams played their hearts out but it all withered down to the full eighty minutes.

Strathmore University, their depth this past season through to this year’s Floodies and sailing through to the cup semis shows how much skill and execution can do wonders despite exit of notable players. They walloped Nondies, despite the latter’s systemic upgrade, that’s much of a sign on what to expect on the 2018/19 Kenya Cup season. 

And kudos to Coach Mbai for the depth he has built at his camp. Should I also remind you that prize money has been included? Also, Mwamba versus Nondescripts RFC owe us plenty for such a stale match, to say the least.

KCB edged out a spirited Impala Saracens to defend their pose as cup winners in what must have a been a block-buster game. Several years to come when they ask, where I was when KCB were on the receiving end of ‘gwoko’; brute play rugby… 

Let everyone who reads this know I witnessed. The bankers might have been quick to score but it was a thrilling contest that Impala put up to the edge and nearly win the game that was memorable. 

All seemed so close but suddenly far again after a scrummage infringement that went against the Saracens and just when we thought things could get better and we get to stop the green lion’s monopoly of wins, an opportune penalty kick was fluffed. Granted, all the pressure and the choice of the kicker at such a time… Impala honorably lost the game, Cheers KCB Impala Floodlit 2018, Cup Winners. 

But I am still gutted…

I would throw in a paragraph or two on the Kenya XVs’ resounding campaign to get a slot at the 2019 Rugby World Cup but that will be too lengthy a read. So, despite all the uncertainty on a number of issues that the team has been able to navigate throughout the year through to the repechage, we wish them all the best. 

And to address the onyx in the room, Head Coach Ian Snook picked his charges as he deemed them best, how pissed and spiteful some of us might be, let me remind you ‘pleasing everyone’ was/is not included on his list of duties and responsibilities (of course going by accurate assumptions here).

Safari Sevens is back

Our premier pseudo international rugby festival is back and just like a lost son retracing his roots, the Union has reverted back to the original venue, RFUEA grounds. 

Seven years after taking chances at Nyayo and Kasarani Stadiums, the ignored beckoning call by  enthusiasts finally seems to have been reasoned out. Scenes of empty seats should be no more and sights of rugby action on the actual rugby turf should be thrilling than what I last saw at Kasarani.

In case you missed out on the previous edition of the Safari Sevens in 2016, read my honest review at the time here: Suffering Safari 7s?

Such a shift of course comes along at a price, literally this time. The tournaments that runs on 9th to 11th of November, has set ticket prices to sell at a flat rate of Ksh 500 ($5.00) on Friday, fair enough. On to the main days, Saturday and Sunday, advanced ticket price shoot up to Ksh. 1200 ($12) while at the gate they’ll go for Ksh. 1500 ($15), V.I.P tickets go for Ksh. 3000 ($30) per day. To rescue some change through better grab a season ticket that go for Ksh. 2000 ($20) regular seats ( the yay!! area) and Ksh. 2500 ($25) for V.I.P.

I wont raise a hoot at the pricing this time round, Kenyans have clearly showed the grit in paying double and triple the amount in other concerts all over, please pay and support the union, they are on a cash crunch this year.

Important notice though, this years version provides ‘minimal’ to no parking space at all with the ongoing expansion of the Ngong Road. The union has however sorted out transport logistics with FREE BUS RIDES FOR TICKET HOLDERS TO AND FROM THE VENUE to be boarded at KENCOM BUS STAGE.

With hundreds of attendees expected to throng the venue, this is a good deal but some being typical Kenyans, they wouldn’t afford to leave the comfort of their cars. That said, let’s show up in troops and enjoy thrilling action pitch, do not forget your costumes!

Crispaus Onkoba
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