The National Sevens Circuit drew to a close on Sunday 22 October with the Dala Sevens at the ASK Mamboleo Showground in Kisumu City. While outgoing circuit champions Homeboyz edged KCB 12-10 to retain the Dala title, it was Kabras Sugar who accumulated the most points at the close of the six tournament circuit to take over the reins from the deejays as the new Kenyan sevens champions.
And what a circuit it was….the opening four rounds producing four different winners with the race for the overall title going down to the wire.
The opening round, the Driftwood Sevens, was played in the coastal city of Mombasa on 1st and 2nd September and it was Homeboyz who laid down the season’s marker, posting a 17-7 cup final win over Nakuru to take an early lead in the standings. It was at this tournament where Mean Machine, unfancied at the start, beat all the odds, and some major scalps too, to reach the cup semifinal. This would be their performance of the circuit. They were joined in the last four by the youthful Oilers whose sevens circuit fairytale was just beginning.
Up next was the Kabeberi Sevens in Nairobi a week later. It will be recalled that the Homeboyz juggernaut flattened all opposition en-route to winning the previous seasons NSC. They were the top seeds heading into Kabeberi but exited the party at the cup quarterfinal stage, falling victim to Lucas Opal’s boot which sealed a 13-10 win for Strathmore who fell to a 17-22 defeat to the Oilers in what was an electric semifinal encounter. Impala Saracens, defending champions at Kabeberi, had quietly gone about their business before edging Kabras Sugar 24-19 to set up a cup final against the Oilers. The final could best be described as a clash between sentiment and romance, the sentimentalists rooting for a successful title defense from the champions, the romanticists rooting for the first time finalists to run off with the trophy.It wasn’t to be….sentiment trumping romance….Impala mounting a successful title defense with a 22-5 win over the darlings of the crowd Oilers who were playing in their first ever cup final.
Impala would fail to make the cup quarterfinal at the third round of the circuit, the Prinsloo Sevens in Nakuru, KCB running off with the title before Kabras claimed the fourth round, the Sepetuka Sevens in Eldoret, cutting Homeboyz lead atop the circuit log to a mere five points with two rounds still to play.
As mentioned earlier in this text, there had been four different winners after four rounds of the circuit, a trend that was bucked when the Christie Sevens took place in Nairobi, Kabras posting a 19-7 win over Impala to go five points clear of Impala heading into the final round in Kisumu.
There was all to play for at the Dala Sevens in Kisumu with Kabras, Impala and Homeboyz still in with a chance of claiming overall honors. While the tournament was hit by the withdrawal of several teams due to security concerns, it still proceeded without much ado, the promoted teams stepping up to the plate with Webuye and Makueni making the cup quarters alongside the circuit top contenders.
Three of the four cup quarters were relatively straightforward affairs…Homeboyz, Kabras reaching the semis alongside KCB. The quarterfinal fixture between Blak Blad and Impala served up an earthshaking result, Blad reaching the semis with a 17-10 win over Impala, a result that ended the Sarries interest not only in the Dala Sevens, but the National Sevens Circuit overall title as well. It was definitely advantage Kabras at this point in time, needing only a cup final appearance to be crowned national champions. A 5-12 semifinal loss to KCB delayed their coronation and seeing that Homeboyz had made their way to the Dala cup final, the onus was upon Kabras to win the third place playoff against Blak Blad if they were to be crowned champions. They duly obliged, the 19-7 win over Blad seeing them reach an unassailable 102 points. Homeboyz would defend their Dala title with a 12-10 win over KCB, subsequently finishing second overall on the NSC log with 100 points.
It definitely was an exciting circuit, one that couldn’t have been possible without the participation of the teams and the input from match officials and tournament staff across all the hosting venues.
See you in 2018!
2017 National Sevens Circuit Standings