Safaricom7s 2011 Launched
Safaricom Sevens slated for November at the Nyayo National Stadium
The Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and title sponsors Safaricom have together announced that the Nyayo National Stadium will host the 16th edition of the Safaricom Sevens from 4-6 November 2011.
The announcement represents an exciting development for the tournament, which has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 1996, continually reaching out to new fans, sponsors and broadcasters. This has necessitated the tournament’s move to a centrally located, easily accessible larger venue where fans are assured of first class sevens rugby action in a spacious, fun filled, safe and secure environment.
“The intensity of the Safaricom Sevens tournament has over the years been unrivalled by any other sporting event organized by this country. One would have gone down memory lane to the era when Kenya’s Safari Rally used to be part of the World Rally Championship [WRC], to think of anything comparable,” said KRU Chairman, Mwangi Muthee.
“This year’s tournament promises several radical approaches to its organization. The Safaricom Sevens Organizing Committee is indeed working hard to ensure that the event surpasses all past ones in terms of excellence,” he added.
The Kenya Rugby Union’s decision to move the tournament comes after a thorough vetting process.
“It needs no emphasizing that Kenya rugby’s following has exponentially grown to the point that attendances at the RFUEA Grounds, the traditional venue of the Safaricom Sevens have outstripped facilities to accommodate the ever increasing crowds.
We shall be moving the three-day tournament to the Nyayo National Stadium. There will be more seating space, more shaded area, more ablution rooms and parking, in addition to an airy atmosphere and an ideal playing pitch. The Nyayo National Stadium gives Kenya rugby the best opportunity to deliberately market itself to more Kenyans who previously heard about the game from afar. That Kenya rugby will be shedding a perceived elitist face cannot be gainsaid,” he added.
“Indeed the rugby fraternity is reaching out to the Government to assist the Kenya Rugby Union in putting up a 30,000 seat multi-purpose stadium at our Ngong’ Road property. Large-scale Government and major investor partnerships are required to assist the Kenya Rugby Union in raising the huge financial outlay to facilitate this infrastructure development. The little money that the Union raises at the moment goes into its core business – basically running the sport.”
“I want to extend my sincere thanks to the title sponsor, Safaricom. The rugby fraternity is extremely happy and upbeat about current competitions and many more events in the new season, already a few weeks in, with the current National Sevens Circuit which enters its fourth round at the weekend,” he concluded.
Maurice Newa, Director – Customer Care & Strategic Marketing, Safaricom Ltd, said the new venue will also be more accessible and convenient given its strategic location.
“The profile of this event has grown globally and therefore the need to ensure top class hospitality. This includes among other things, broadcast area, medical facilities and changing rooms. We aim at putting the event at par with similar international events. Security issues also informed the decision the change venues,” said Newa.
Sports Minister Paul Otuoma, in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Kabando wa Kabando complimented the KRU for the professional running of its affairs which has continually attracted funding from the corporate world. He also noted that hosting rugby sevens at the Nyayo National Stadium would see a larger number of people exposed to the game and the sevens experience.
Otuoma also threw a challenge to the Kenyan rugby teams to produce positive results at the various competitions they are entered in.
This year, Safaricom will be sponsoring the event to the tune of Sh30.2 million. Out of this amount, Sh24.2 million will be for title sponsorship, Sh3 million for Media Centre while another Sh3 million will go towards the popular Safaricom Village.
The move to change the tournament’s dates to early November is part of the KRU’s envisaged plan that is geared towards attracting top sevens playing nations that will be headed for the opening legs of the International Rugby Board’s HSBC Sevens World Series in late November. Having these top level sides here in Nairobi will give the Kenya fans more to enjoy in terms of quality rugby and the opportunity to see their revered sevens heroes play right here in Nairobi.
The change in dates will also serve as an adequate dress rehearsal for the host nation, Kenya, who are a core side of the HSBC Sevens World Series ahead of their campaign as they go in pursuit of greater glories on the international sevens scene. They will be able to gauge themselves against the caliber of opponents they are likely to face in the series, giving them an opportunity to raise their game, compete with the best and challenge for bigger titles.
Sixteen teams have confirmed their participation in this year’s tournament. They include hosts and defending champions Kenya, Bristol, who have been at every tournament since 1996, star teams Samoa and Spain, France, Zimbabwe, New Zealand provincial side Auckland, Belmont Shore from the USA and the Emerging Boks to name but a few.
The complete list of confirmed teams:
1. Kenya, 2.Bristol, 3. Les Bleu, 4. Zimbabwe, 5. Zambia, 6. False Bay RFC, 7.Namibia, 8. Samurai, 9.Tanzania, 10. Uganda, 11. Grenoble, 12. Spain, 13. Samoa, 14. Emerging Boks, 15. Belmont Shore, 16. Auckland.
Standby team: Shujaa, Rwanda, Goshawks.