What you need to know:
- Some clubs want Simiyu back.
- Some of the directors are routing for Murunga and believe that his potential wasn’t fully exploited during his one-year tenure that was marred by players’ boycotts.
The search for a new Kenya Sevens head coach has split the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Board, Nation Sport understands.
The intense lobbying by some top Kenya Cup clubs has also brought an interesting mix to the search.
The KRU executive whittled down the selection to former Kenya Sevens head coaches Innocent "Namcos" Simiyu and Paul "Pau" Murunga and former Kenyan international Dennis "Ironman" Mwanja.
This is after the meeting on Wednesday put Welsh Nick Wakley's application on hold owing to what a source at KRU secretary secretariat said was the financial implications involved.
Simiyu handled the team in 2016 and 2017 before Murunga took charge for the 2018 season.
Wakley handled the Welsh Warriors said that won Safari Sevens in 2014 and Samurai International in 2015.
Interestingly, former Kenya Sevens coach Paul Feeney was among the three panelists, who settled on the four coaches from a list of 15 applications.
The others on the panel that conducted the interviews via zoom, were acting KRU chief executive officer Thomas Odundo and World Rugby educator Peter Hardy.
With the board split, the source disclosed that KRU chairman Oduor Gangla is under pressure from both sides of the divide especially from the influential Kenya Cup clubs.
Oduor is also under immense pressure from board directors, who have no affiliation to these clubs, on who to name as Shujaa's boss.
Some clubs want Simiyu back. However, what is working against him is his association with the 2018 Paris Sevens saga where his charges protested by concealing a sponsor's logo after the Union diverted their cash reward.
Simiyu, who had propelled the team to two finals at the 2017/2018 World Sevens Series leg in Vancouver and Hong Kong, opted to take the blame for what happened rather than report certain players for reprimand.
"The union then never foresaw the backlash and repercussions from potential sponsors after the protest that saw Kenya Tourism Board hold back their sponsorship," said the source. “Those backing Namcos say he has unfinished business with the team and that as a coach he had to accept responsibility.”
The source further said that with Paul Odera handling the national 15s team, some clubs and KRU officials want the Kenya 7s job to be awarded to the camp fronting Mwanja.
Some of the directors are routing for Murunga and believe that his potential wasn’t fully exploited during his one-year tenure that was marred by players’ boycotts.
“They say he didn’t have the required manpower following the boycotts, and more so, the players were poorly remunerated,” added the source.
The thorny issue of another foreign coach cropped up after Wakley’s application was put on hold.
Feeney, who was on the selection panel, quit less than a year into his contract as Kenya Sevens head coach in April this year.
Frustrations stemming from lack of long term investment in Kenya Sevens team were cited as some of the reasons but KRU indicated that it was by mutual consent.
Feeney, who is in New Zealand, left the role at the end of April this year owing to what KRU said was the uncertainty around the Covid-19 situation and the need to be at home with his family in New Zealand.
"Those pushing for a foreign coach opine that local rugby politics always creep into the team management and some senior players end up hijacking the dressing room," explained the source.
Also, the source intimated that some directors are unhappy that the Union only settles on local coaches but dumps them for foreigners when funds start trickling in.