The Story Behind The Simba's Loss To Portugal in Dubai
Possibly the cause of Kenya Simba's worst-ever Test loss to Portugal Wolves in the present Rugby World Cup (RWC) final qualification event in Dubai was a go-slow and boycott by senior players due to unpaid allowances.
Prior to the Wolves game last Saturday, head coach Paul Odera was forced to make 12 changes to the team that had lost to the United States of America's Eagles on November 5.
The outcomes were dismal because the team couldn't compete with the Portuguese, who are ranked higher in the World Rugby rankings and were vastly superior.
The Simbas suffered their heaviest loss in a Test match at the hands of the Wolves, who destroyed them 85-0, eliminating them from contention for a spot in the 2023 RWC finals.
The Simbas, who are scheduled to play Hong Kong in a ceremonial match on Friday at 3 p.m. (Kenyan time), skipped practice on Monday in favor of playing touch rugby.
Odera, who had to call off their Monday training sessions, declined to speak with Nation Sport and instead sent us to the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
The players, according to team insiders, feel abandoned and ignored by the union and the administration.The insider revealed that the team did not receive their international allowances despite its struggles to receive its local allowance prior to the competition.
“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.
Prior to the 2023 RWC final qualification tournament, the Kenya Simbas were given a boost of Sh1.5 million on November 5 by their partner and primary sponsor, the Hildana Lodge.
Calls to the KRU's top officials went unanswered, making attempts to get their comments fruitless.
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 tournament's Pool "C," which already includes Wales, Australia, Fiji, and Georgia, will add the winner.
Kenya Simbas was unable to directly qualify for the competition during the July qualifiers for Africa held in France. In the 2023 RWC Africa qualification final, the squad fell to Namibia 36-0.
The USA Eagles, Portugal, Hong Kong, Kenya, and Kenyan were ranked 17th, 20th, 22nd, and 22nd in the World Rugby rankings prior to the four-team tournament.
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