National sevens circuit is weeks away and teams have already started training for what will be a competitive year in local action.
Teams have made signings here and there as defending champions Homeboyz seek to have another memorable run of reaching all finals but will that happen in 2017?
Homeboyz played Impala Saracens in two finals, Quins in two finals, KCB and Kabras Sugar losing to Impala, Quins and Kabras but these sides will definitely not allow another dominance by Homeboyz.
Cardovillis at Kabras
To start with, Kabras Sugar will have Ugandan International Philip Wokorach available for more than four legs unlike in 2016 where he only took part in two. Wokorach is a top player both in 15s and 7s. His kick, chase and gather tactics and sure boots are second to none.
The Sugar belt side have Charles Cardovillis as their head coach and the former Quins director of rugby and sevens coach brings a wealth of experience. With the flying Fijians still in the picture to add to the likes of Dan Sikuta, Brian Tanga, Aluda Beda and others, Kabras will definitely be one of the teams to watch.
KCB did not have a good run in the 2016 circuit but kept improving leg after leg to reach Nanyuki Sevens final. The young squad has since improved with availability of Kenya Sevens captain Andrew Amonde set to be a big boost.
Philip Wamae may also return to boost tactician Dennis Mwanja with the likes of Martin Owila and Ahmed Shaban in line to make a statement.
Impala Saracens reached two finals winning Kabeberi 7s and those who watched saw what the cup win meant to the Ngong road side that had just lost in the Kenya cup final.
Derrick Mayar was one of the outstanding players and his performance saw him receive a Kenya Sevens call up. The side now has Robert Aringo, Samuel Motari and Ian Minjire back while Sammy Oliech will be a boost after Kenya Sevens pre-season.
Losing to KCB in Nanyuki 7s semifinal is probably still in Nick Abok’s mind and recently told Raga House they will be looking to reach at least all semifinals as their least target.
Sure Strong Superior
Kenya Harlequins finished second in 2016 and are one of those sides expected to go for more in the forthcoming season. Winning Driftwood 7s to become one of the few sides to upset the Deejayz was a big boost that saw them finish second in the overall standings with 103 points, 20 below Homeboyz.
Ginton Adongo made Christie 7s dream team but featuring for Strathmore and has since crossed over to Quins to join likes of Edward Shitanda, Eric Shikuku, Kevin Keegan and Pius Shiundu who played in almost all legs.
Patrice Agunda, Frank Wanyama and Eden Agero are expected to join Quins in the latter stages of the circuit with of course new additions set to make a name in the team.
Collins Injera, Steve Sikuta
Mwamba RFC fielded a young side due to unavailability of national team players who had gone to Rio Oympics but the young side put a spirited performance that saw likes of Steve Sikuta receive a national team call-up.
The squad is believed to be still intact under head coach Kevin Wambua and the return of Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera and Billy Odhiambo will be a big add up may they be available for up to four legs.
Wambua will be looking to improve from 7th place they finished in 2016 with 69 points and catch up with the likes of Impala and Strathmore who sat in top four positions.
World full of stars
Homeboyz remain a force to reckon once again and this time round they’re capable of fielding two different teams, if it could be possible.
The Deejayz have the most number of players in Kenya Sevens and despite most travelling with the team to Rio Olympics in 2016, they still managed to win the circuit for the first time in history.
Brian Wandera from Quins, Churchill Ooko from Strathmore and Mohammed Omolo from Impala have since joined Homeboyz which actually leaves head coach Paul Murunga with selection head-ache.
Kenya 7s internationals Oscar Ayodi, Leonard Mugaisi, Augustine Lugonzo, Alvin Otieno, Bush Mwale and Cyprian Kuto will definitely take part in four or five legs.
The ex-Strathmore Leos contingent of Tony Onyango, Michael Wanjala and Charles ‘Jamandass’ Otieno and former Nakuru back-rower Dalmus Chituyi are also part of the team.
There are also the likes of Jeff Oluoch, Max Kangeri, Steve ‘Security’ Otieno, Collins Shikoli, Humphrey Mulama, Kelvin Masai, Humphrey Owuor , Keith Wasike and Daniel Abuonji who will want a chance to participate.
It all boils down to Paul Murunga on how he will, as usual, make the plan to conquer sevens once again.
Biko Adema, Ombachi and Oscar Dennis
Nondies pulled out of Nanyuki 7s due to injury concerns and numbers but this side proved a point during Christie 7s.
For the first time they reached quarters in Christies and some of their players made the dream team meaning if Nondies build on that they will not be an easy team to beat.
Oscar Dennis’ availability seemed to have worked out well for them and with Dennis Ombachi now on their side and Biko Adema having had a good Kenya Cup it may be a good season for them.
Oscar Dennis, Ombachi and Biko have all played for Kenya 7s at one point and bring wealth of sevens experience to them and it remains for Nondies to ensure these three are available. Dennis, who is based in Australia, is set to confirm his availability in August.
Promising Blak Blad
Blak Blad is one of the most promising teams consisting of boys who are all eyeing call-ups to either Kenya 7s or Kenya 15s teams.
Blad beat Impala 14-10 in Driftwood 7s to confirm what would be a good season for them and are expected to be so once again in 2017.
Levy Amunga was arguably one of the best fly-halves in 2016/17 Kenya Cup while Moses Begi, Andrew Alusa and Franz Obudo put in top-class performances.
With Wesley Kidinga, Mark Ongayo, Brave Mkoro, Klein Nato, Steve Odhiambo and Calvin Nyausi still in the picture, Blad will be one of the teams to watch in 2017.
Eyes will be on Strathmore Leos after yet another exodus especially of sevens captain Churchill Ooko who joined Homeboyz while head coach Mitch Ochola left for Nakuru.
Leos will be testing their team at Embu 7s as well as other upcoming tournament and this is a big chance for the left young guys to prove their worth after the exodus.
Alex Olaba is definitely one of those players to lead a Leos team that will have Teddy Agutu , Carlwilliams Odhiambo, Dennis Juma, Brian Alukwe, Kanyiri Kariuki, Ian Lumwaji and Ginton Adongo.
Ooko's leadership will greatly be missed as well as Ginton Adongo's effort but as like any other team, they have to move on and make a mark. Strathmore managed a fourth position finish with 88 points and pressure will be on the new coach to deliver results as well as build a team for the coming days.
Once a time Nakuru RFC
Nakuru won 2015 national sevens circuit after making three straight finals prior to Kabeberi 7s, winning two - Kisumu's Dala and their own tournament Prinsloo 7s to total 91 points but they were no where close to that in 2016.
However, the then head coach Gibson Weru is now at Menengai Oilers who had a good run in 2016. Nakuru simply did not click in 2016 as well as the following Kenya Cup season where they did not make playoffs.
The likes of Oscar Ouma and Nelson Oyoo did not replicate their series performance to their local team while Martin Owila joined KCB going to Dala 7s.
2017 may the turn-around year for Wanyore with the acquisition of Mitch Ochola as the head coach and availability of players like Cassius Omollo, Victor Shigholi, Geoffrey Ominde, Gramwell Bunyasi, Larry Safari and Donald Oluoch.
2017 dates are subject to confirmation by Kenya Rugby Union board but as per now Driftwood 7s and Kabeberi 7s will kick-off the year on July 22nd and 29th before heading to Nakuru for Prinsloo 7s on September 2nd.
Homeboyz will host Sepetuka 7s on September 9th, Christies take place on September 23rd while Dala 7s will close the calendar on September 30.
KRU 2017 Sevens Circuit dates
22nd July 2017- Mombasa Driftwood
29th July 2017-Kabeberi Sevens, Nairobi
2nd September-Prinsloo, Nakuru
9th September- Homeboyz
23rd September 2017- Christies, Nairobi
30th September 2017- Dala, Kisumu
2016 final standings
10.Menengai Oilers -27
11.Mean Machine -24
13.Catholic Monks -15
14.Western Bulls -14
17. Makueni – 9
18. Comras - 6
19 . Kisumu - 4
20. Mombasa -1