Impala Saracens Director of Rugby Fred Ollows wants to see the return of Super Series, an East African Rugby union competition that at some point was contested by up to eight franchises made by clubs from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
When it existed, between 2003 and 2014, the competition that largely borrowed its concept from Super Rugby in the Southern hemisphere went by the name Bamburi Rugby Super Series (BRSS) following sponsorship from the firm Bamburi Cement.
Ollows, speaking to Raga House after Sunday's Kenya Simbas trials, says Super Series was a great notion.
"The Super Series was a great concept designed to bring together the best players, coaches and managers. As a product, it targeted preparing the best players for national duty.
This coming together was a valuable step in playing, coaching and managing hierarchy because, the club environment is entirely different from the elite representative setup."
In the years gone by, the Super Series, played by Franchises made from clubs provided the perfect platform for sampling players for national team assignments.
Ollows says that "in the representative setup, the players are more talented but the team less cohesive - because of much less time than in the club setting. A call up is just one, every time. They may accumulate to many, for some players but, ultimately it is singular."
"Therefore, the performance pressure is always high. The Super Series was therefore, an introduction to that high octane environment."
Asked on the difference between when the Super Series was there then and now, Ollows says "incidentally, the club environment has improved, in general, compared to when we had the Super Series. But, just imagine what the Super Series would be like, with the club sphere as we have it now?"
Till 2014 the Super Series had been a part and parcel of the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) calendar since 2003.
"That tournament was dynamite." Ollows remembers he once gave up his IRB suite London 7s ticket to return to watch a final. " We need that tournament back for its own rugby value and to act as a part of a pathway to the Kenya Simbas."
The Kenya Rugby Union already has a busy calendar from November to August but Ollows believes this is mostly a planning thing.
"We don't really have a busy calendar. The League will begin somewhere in November, if last year is anything to go by. That's more than six months away"
"This is mostly a planning thing. If clubs go the direction of properly planning the player load, there shouldn't be a problem. It only becomes an issue when clubs want a particular set of players to feature in every single fixture on the calendar."
Loss of focus
"Bamburi priorities may have changed. That happens in every corporate setup. There was also a matter of mixed priorities where they were being propositioned to sponsor something else. The loss of focus was probably an important contributor," comments Ollows.
"Nonetheless, if a product is considered fundamental to the game, it will run. The Kenya Cup has not been sponsored for a while but it still runs. So also the Nationwide and Championship Leagues where most of Kenya's players are."
Ollows concludes that "if the Super Series' status and priority leapfrogs, the means will be found."
In its last edition in 2014, the Series featured six franchises, Ndovu, Chui, Kifaru and Papa all from Kenya while Victoria and Ruwenzori represented Uganda.
UAP Kifaru became the first university franchise to lift the BRSS title after beating pre-match favorites Nguvu Papa 15-0 in the final.