The Safari Sevens has over the years unearthed its fair share of Kenya Sevens players who have gone on to excel on the World stage in rugby’s abridged version.
Among the players who have proceeded to greatness include Oscar Osir, Dennis Mwanja, Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera, Innocent Simiyu to name but a few.
Playmaker par excellence Lavin Asego, the first Kenyan player to reach 1000 points on the Sevens World Series, also earned his first representative stripes at this very tournament way back in 2003. It is also important to note that Lavin is one of a select bunch of players to have played in the Nike, Carisbook, Kooga, Volcano, Gilbert and Samurai kits for Kenya. We will have to do a separate interview to cover Lavin’s kit experience.
Reliving those Safari Sevens experiences, Lavin says, ” I first played at the Safari Sevens in 2003 at the RFUEA Ground and featured for Shujaa, which was the Kenyan second string side at the tournament.It was an amazing feeling because just a year earlier I remember watching it on television and telling myself I want to replace Jeff Vilembwa who was the flyhalf in that Shujaa squad at the time.”
His burning ambition and desire to achieve more saw him rise up the ranks, featuring for the first choice Kenyan side in subsequent editions, winning the Robin Cahill trophy in 2004, 2008,2009 and 2010.
In describing that winning feeling, Asego says, ” The crowd was always amazing and I usually took time to look around the stadium and soak in the atmosphere. My enduring memory of the tournament at RFUEA was beating the Emerging Boks in the 2010 final with torrential rain pouring. Ashy (Sidney Ashioya) scored the winning try in extra time.”
The 2010 final was the last time the RFUEA Ground witnessed Safari Sevens action, making stops at Nyayo Stadium and Kasarani in the intervening years before returning back to where it all began in 1996 for the 2017 edition.
Lavin, having witnessed the tournament go full circle, says, ” If we can get the RFUEA crowd over to Kasarani then we have a world class tournament worthy of the world series.”
Lavin’s parting shot to upcoming players: ” Nobody owes you anything. Head down,work hard and your light will shine.”
This year’s Safari Sevens takes place at the RFUEA Ground between 3rd and 5th November 2017.