Players on the Kenya rugby sevens national team have reportedly rejected the appointment of Briton William Webster as the new head coach following the controversial axing of Innocent Simiyu last week.
KRU picked Webster, a World Rugby Level II coach who served as Simiyu’s assistant for a year, to take charge of the team at the upcoming Rugby World Cup which kicks off on July 20 in San Francisco.
The players, however, reportedly met and resolved not to play under Webster due to the controversial circumstances in which Simiyu was sent home.
Simiyu had taken full responsibility for the players’ decision to conceal the Brand Kenya message on their jerseys at the Paris Sevens as they had yet to be paid their dues in spite of Ksh4 Million out of a Ksh20 Million 8-month sponsorship having already been channelled to the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
“Kenya 7s players resolve not to play under William Webster who’s set to be named as their new Coach. Here I support the players. Simiyu fought for players’ rights and was unjustly sacked! KRU has been bullying the team for too long,” tweeted renowned sports journalist Carol Radull.
In addition, reports indicate that the team has still not been paid their salaries for the month of May.
Following the KRU decision and a rant by Tourism CS Najib Balala berating the players for taking the decision to conceal the Brand Kenya message, a campaign has been launched by fans known as ‘Boycott KRU’ demanding that the team be treated as they deserve for the accolades and recognition they have brought to Kenya.
A section of fans have vowed to boycott the Sevens team next game against Zimbabwe in Nairobi as gate fees are collected by KRU.
“I mean you taking to them gate charges players will never receive, my three friends and 1 have decided we are not going for that match #BoycottKRU,” wrote one user known as Sir Alexas.
“Even Mike Friday was shocked Simiyu was fired,Simiyu has done the unachievable despite a demoralized team with back wages yet to fill their pockets.Then Balala directs his fake anger at the players who’ve worked their butts off while KRU squander their money & fares #BoycottKRU,” wrote another by the name Muya Gichigi.
Simiyu led the team to its highest ever points haul of 104 in the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens series in a season that saw the team make two main cup finals and finish in eighth place overall.