What you need to know:
- The Wolves tore apart the Simbas 85-0 with the team's worst ever defeat in a Test match knocking them out of contention for a place at the 2023 RWC finals
- Odera, who was forced to suspend their training sessions Monday declined to talk to Nation Sport, referring us to Kenya Rugby Union (KRU)
- Team captain Dan Sikuta disputed claims that they have boycotted training
A go-slow and boycott by senior players owing to unpaid allowances could be behind Kenya Simba’s worst ever Test defeat against Portugal Wolves in the ongoing 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) final qualification tournament in Dubai.
The situation forced head coach Paul Odera to make 12 changes to the squad that had fallen to the United States of America's Eagles on November 5 ahead of the Wolves battle last Saturday.
The results were grim as the team couldn’t match the much superior Portuguese, who are placed higher in the World Rugby rankings.
The Wolves tore apart the Simbas 85-0 with the team's worst ever defeat in a Test match knocking them out of contention for a place at the 2023 RWC finals.
The Simbas who are due to play Hong Kong in a formality match on Friday from 3pm (Kenyan time) boycotted training Monday with players opting to engage in touch rugby.
Odera, who was forced to suspend their training sessions Monday declined to talk to Nation Sport, referring us to Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
However, the sources within the team intimated that the players feel deserted and neglected by the union and the government.
The source disclosed that the team has gone without their overseas allowances even after struggling to get the local allowance before departure for the tournament.
“It’s just tough for the players and the technical bench, who have gone for three weeks at a foreign country without anything,” said the source, adding that it’s unacceptable when most of the players are not employed.
“You can tell the players are not in the right mental frame to train,” said the source, who accused the KRU of taking joyriders to Dubai, leaving behind resourceful people like the team’s analyst, Billy Odengo.
“There are some people who traveled for other things at the expense of the most productive people, who have been with the team all along,” said the source.
Team captain Dan Sikuta disputed claims that they have boycotted training.
“I don’t think so. We had our first training for the week today but truth be told that we haven’t been paid anything since we arrived here,” said Sikuta, who acknowledged that things haven’t gone as planned on the pitch. “But we are still pushing for better results against Hong Kong,” said Sikuta.
On November 5, the Kenya Simbas received a boost of Sh1.5 million from its partner and main sponsor the Hildana Lodge ahead of the 2023 RWC final qualification tournament.
Efforts to get comments from KRU top officials proved futile as calls went unanswered.
Portugal and the United States will now face-off in the decisive match on Friday starting from 5.30pm in a match whose winner will qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The winner will join Pool “C” of the tournament that already has Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia.
Kenya Simbas failed to qualify for the tournament directly in the African qualifiers held in France in July. The team lost 36-0 to Namibia in the final of the 2023 RWC Africa qualification.
Going into the four-team tournament, the USA Eagles were placed 17th in World Rugby rankings, Portugal 20th, Hong Kong 22nd and Kenya 33rd.