The Safaricom Safari Sevens is the biggest rugby event held in Kenya and is run by the Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU). The competition is promoted as being Africa’s premier rugby sevens tournament drawing crowds of over 20,000 to the weekend event. It is also one of the most popular events in the country.
The series kicks off today (September 26th) at the Kasarani stadium and will end on Sunday SSeptember28th. Daily tickets go for Kshs, 200 Upper deck, Kshs 500 Lower deck and Kshs 1,000 V.I.P. Season tickets go for Kshs 1,000 upper deck, Kshs. 2,000 Lower deck and Kshs 4,000 V.I.P. entrance is by advance tickets which are available at Safaricom shops and Nakumatt outlets.
Here’s a look at some of the things you probably did not know about the event.
1. The inaugural tournament took place in 1996 and was won by Public School Wanderers who beat Zimbabwe 40-14 in the final. The other winners included Kenya (who beat Uganda 38-12 in the Plate final) and Cumbria Schoolboys who defeated Shujaa 29-10 in the Bowl Final.
2. Kenya won the tournament for the first time in 1997 after beating Cumbria School Boys 24-21 in the main final.
3. Kenya did not make the podium in 1998 and 1999 with the tournaments won by Bristol University Select and Public School Wanderers respectively.
4. In 1999 the Kenya Rugby Football Union applied and won the right to host the Africa Zone Qualifying Tournament for the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens Finals. This qualifiaction competition was combined with the 2000 tournament to make it into a longer 3 day festival of rugby rather than cancel the Safari Sevens. The Kenya sevens side did not therefore take part in the Safari Sevens; Shujaa the Kenya ‘A’ side carried the hopes of the home crowd and did not disappoint, winning the cup.
In the World Cup Qualifying tournament Kenya, captained by Sammy Khakame, defeated Swaziland and then Madagascar at the beginning of day two and then Namibia in the semi-finals on day three, thus qualifying to go to Argentina the next year as there wer two slots open to the African Zone. Zimbabwe defeated Kenya in the final.
5. The British Army won back to back titles in 2001 and 2002
6. In 2004 the first women’s team played in the tournament
7. In 2005 Fijian rugby great, Waisale Serevi played for Kenya A (Shujaa) as a guest player.
8. Kenya played against the Emerging Springboks in 3 consecutive finals ,i.e 2008, 2009 and 2010, beating the South Africans all three times. This was after the Emerging Springboks had won back to back tournaments in 2006 and 2007, beating Zimbabwe in both finals.
9. The 13th edition of the Safari Sevens in 2008 saw a rise in the gate fee of KSh200 per person to KSh800.
10. In 2011, hosts Kenya, Uganda and Bristol University from the United Kingdom were the only sides to have played in the annual event since its inception in 1996.