Why Kenya Simba are likely to miss Mzansi Challenge

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RUGBY Why Kenya Simba are likely to miss Mzansi Challenge

Joel Omotto 10:40 - 18.01.2024

Kenya national 15s side, the Simbas, are starring at possibility of missing this year’s Mzansi Challenge as old problems have resurfaced again

Kenya Simbas are likely to miss the 2024 Curie Cup due to unavailability of funds.

The Simbas nearly missed last year’s tournament owing to financial challenges and only a threat to kick them out of subsequent editions saw them make a late dash to South Africa, missing their first two games against the Boland Kavaliers and the Leopards.

It appears they could be a no show at this year’s edition entirely after Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) director of national squads Moses Mukabane admitted they are helpless due to a big cash crunch.

"The Currie Cup is an expensive undertaking,” Mukabane told The Star. “We have played there for two years but we are currently in a tight spot as far as finances are concerned. We will wait and see what happens in the next couple of months.”

The tournament, christened Mzansi Challenge, is one of those coach Jerome Paarwater has been using to tune his team as they eye a place at the 2027 World Cup but its budget of between Ksh60 and Ksh80 million is giving KRU a major headache.

Currie Cup is played from March to June but with Kenya’s participation now in doubt, KRU is making alternative plans.

"We are talking to the governing body [World Rugby] to see if they can help us get test games as well as play in the Africa Cup and Victoria Cup. All this is geared towards enabling us to qualify for the Rugby World Cup in 2027,” added Mukabane.

At the 2023 tournament, Kenya had a bad start, losing 33-22 to San Clemente Rhinos, having arrived a day before the match, and followed it up with a 18-7 defeat to Eastern Province.

Paarwater’s men recorded their first win when they silenced Border Bulldogs 30-26 before adding Zimbabwe Goshawks, who they beat 48-7 in Nakuru, to their list of casualties but earlier problems resurfaced, as they failed to honour their matches against Valke and SWD Eagles due to lack of funds.

Kenya Simbas finished eighth in the 2023 Mzansi Challenge with the last two missed matches seeing Namibia’s Windhoek Draught Welwitschias leapfrog them from seventh spot on the 10-team log on 12 points.

If they miss the 2024 edition, then Paarwater’s plans are likely to suffer a setback since the tournament, which attracts top South African provincial sides, gives him an opportunity to gauge the level of his team’s preparedness.

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