Well, all in all we had a great tournament. Wasn't sure how it was going to go at the beginning, I really hadn't prepared the team to play sevens but hadspent most of our time working on the basics. Only found out about the tournament on wednesday so spent three sessions working on basic things like sevens scrums and line outs (I think we probably won around 20 percent of those in the tournament!) and as we only had a couple of players from last year, it really hurt us!
But the surprise was great, we wen't 4-0 on the first day of the round robin with big wins against Mariakani, Kwale and Hamisi, also sheepishly beating our B-side which is an other topic to discuss here! The next day I think we were unfairly punished by the referee and lost on a penalty try 7-5 to Shimo la Tewa, the other unbeaten team at the tournament on their home ground. This set us up with a semi-final berth against Mariakani whom we destroyed the previous day, but again (and I suppose you only say this when you lose!) we had a few calls go the wrong way and we lost 5-0. For a moment there I thought we were the class of the tournament and that we were going home with the trophy. In the end we finished third, which in my mind was a huge accomplishment given my expectations at the beginning of the tournament.
Conditions were less than perfect.
It was very difficult to get the boys water or food, and of course the school is on a very tight
budget. I guess traditionally the players here don't eat anything after breakfast so on the first day they didn't eat anything at all until after all the games were finished which meant around 4:30 pm. On the second day I convinced our other coach Waweru to spring for some bananas which the boys ate after the first match. Also equipment was a HUGE issue. There were around 5 pairs of functioning boots on our whole squad. In fact our players borrowed boots from t
he other teams which meant less than perfect conditions for warming up as they had to wait for the ongoing games to finish before they could get their gear on. This is something that I'd like to remedy! Anyone out there have boots?
The second team was another adventure. I figured since we could bring down 20 players we might as well give the younger kids a chance to play. On some levels this back fired, I think this had to do with the culture on the team. I guess the younger guys on some level didn't feel prepared, on an other were just happy to come along for the ride. Many of them after the first game (they were thrashed!) said they might sit the next game out and play in the third game. I've never come across this in all my years of coaching. But give them credit, after they saw the first team pushing hard, some of them rallied and played hard, doing better in their later games. We had a big prop out there with them, and he played the final game with only socks on his feet! Imagine playing sevens in socks on an african pitch!
All in all a smashing success for the first tournament! The first team really gelled and the second team came up with an identity, and today at practice (it was optional and non contact) I could see that they had taken a lot from their experience. We even stopped on the way home and watched the marvellous 6 nations clash between Ireland and France! There's another tournament here in Malindi this weekend. I think St Georges is coming down along with local Galana and the hosts Barani. I was hoping we would meet the perennial champions Waa this weekend, but apparently the school closed down due to riots, as did all the extra curricular activities, I'm trying to see if they might come up to play us in this tournament. Onwards and upwards! I didn't manage to get many pictures of game action as I was a bit excited, but here's a little crappy video of the big game against fellow undefeated team Tewa...