Kenyan rugby has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years to become one of the most popular sports in the country. Fans love the physicality of the game, the ladies love the physical stature of the players and the men love the hard tackles, savage scrums and racks. There is a thrill to watching a player make a side step at the by-line, sprint down the field and to dive to make a try. This has the fans up on their feet screaming at the top of their lungs and Kenyan rugby does not disappoint to this end.
Unfortunately there seems to be one oversight to out game. The kicking.
The past weekend had Nakuru host the second last leg of the Safaricom Sevens series and I had the priviledge to attend thanks to Tusker. As expected the games were thrilling with lots of fast paced action but I did notice that very few of the teams were scoring their conversions or taking penalty kicks. If one finds themselves in a tight match then the two points from the conversion come in handy but we seem not to care too much about this fact. This problem is also carried forth by the national team who find themselves losing big matches with really tight scores and most of the time it is down to a lack of conversion for the team’s tries.
You can never undersell the importance of kicking. Kicking is an integral component of the game. When in an attacking position, kicking can be used as a tactical ploy. If performed accurately and in the correct situation, they can lead to points which ultimately win matches.
I feel this problem needs to be addressed as it goes to shows that we are not adding the needed technicality to our game that will help us beat the more established sides. Try conversions have become so important that at some point there were suggestions floating around to change the scoring system, dropping penalties and drop-goals from three points to two while increasing the value for try conversions from two to three points. These were made to deter players from committing fouls as it seems they would rather give away a penalty than a try but it also shows that the game has changed and we need to seriously put effort in improving our kickers.