Spread the word!

BY 2011 Kenya Rugby Sevens was the flagship of the Kenyan game. This would lead to a famous semi-final placing in the 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow, Russia. The rise excited the whole world including the Chairman of World Rugby Bernard Lapasset the citizen of France.

In this period, I headed the Kenya Rugby Union and came to having a personal wonderful understanding of Bernard Lapasset, an outstanding inspiration of the spread of the game to smaller nations round the world. He had already shown love for and confidence in Kenya when he influenced the staging of the 2009 Junior World Trophy tournament in Nairobi. He had graced the occasion personally. Then, he thrillingly also visited the downtown Nairobi Railway Club to see the hard, scrawny ground of Mwamba Rugby Football club that then produced some of the finest players in the HSBC Rugby World Series including: Collins Injera, Humphrey Kayange, Lavin Asego, Horace Otieno, Victor ‘Opong’ Oduor, George Mbaye and others.

Bernard Lapasset invited me to address the then IRB (International Rugby Board) 2014 general assembly in, Dublin, Ireland. It was his unprecedented deliberate move to showcase to the world how a small rugby playing nation like Kenya had built a world class sevens rugby team. His own words were: “Kenya must be doing something right.”

We had earlier taken advantage of our eminent recognition to now place Kenya’s bid to be included in the hosting of future rounds of the HSBC World Series. This had grown into a serious intent as our sponsors saw realistic chances of attracting this glorious event to our country and we got the full backing of Safaricom, Kenya Airways, Coca Cola, East African Breweries Limited, the Government of Kenya and our country’s President’s personal guarantee. In the run-up to our hopeful entry into the World Series, top rugby playing nations’ teams had started attending our annual Safari Sevens including from: New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, South Africa, England, Argentina, France, Samoa, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Indeed, if it wasn’t for a shadow hanging over Kenya, after the Westgate Mall, Nairobi terrorism attack which had happened in the middle of the Safari Sevens tournament in September 2013, Kenya would today be one of the most visited destinations of the World Series.

And in appreciation of one of biggest supporters of the Kenya bid, Bernard Lapasset, this dream should not die.

In the new dispensation of Kenya sports administration, including: Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, Principal Secretary Jonathan Mueke, with the pre-requisite backing of President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, a Kenyan resuscitation of her ambition to join the top echelons of the world game is realistic and must be pursued by the new administration of Sasha Mutai. Bernard Lapasset’s  successor, Bill Beaumont, whom I also met various times, has utmost admiration for Kenya’s rugby resilience and I am sure we can count on him.

I will also remember Bernard Lapasset as a true friend who with, Hong Kong Rugby President Trevor Gregory, alongside New Zealand great (the late) Jonah Lomu, to be his (Lapasset) guest in the VIP pavilion at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens event of 2014. He would introduce me to everyone in his enclosure, emphasizing his love and admiration for Kenya as his pin-up model of his goal of expansion of the rugby game as wide as possible in the world.

Rest in eternal peace, Bernard Lapasset


Former Chairman, Kenya Rugby Union


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