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AYUMBA AYODI

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya Harlequin is the third most successful rugby club in the country, having won eight Kenya Cup rugby league titles eight times.

The last time the club won the prestigious title was in 2012, with back-to-back victories in 2010 and 2011.

However, the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) ground-based club has found itself at unfamiliar territory in the Kenya Cup league.

Quins are placed at the bottom of the 12-team league.

It’s simply the worst start for Quins to a Kenya Cup season, having lost all their four matches to emerge with only two bonus points.

Quins lost to Homeboyz and defending champions Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) away 26-13 and 32-20, before going down to newcomers Western Bulls 21-19 at home.

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Quins also succumbed to Nakuru 25-18 away.

Will Quins end the drought when they host sixth-placed Menengai Oilers at the RFUEA ground on Saturday ?

The Pool “A” match will mark the end of the respective Pool “A” and “B” first phase before the teams meet their opponents from different pools. They will then return to face off in the second leg in the pools before paving way for the knockout.

Head coach Dominique Habimana, who returned to Quins for this season, is confident that Quins will rediscover its grove for victories that will see them avoid relegation.

Habimana said the general playing and training environment and the new structures that he introduced are slowly improving. “It’s quite unfortunate where we are but no situation is permanent,” said Habimana.

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Habimana said the situation between Quins and Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) where politics crept has in a way contributed to the poor results at the club.

“There could be issues with sponsorship but teams can still perform well without money,” said Habimana.

“The place where the Union is and the club has brought in big competing interests and it’s these external opinions that I want players to disregard and focus on play.”

Habimana said Quins has great and skillful players that should turn their fortunes around adding that positive results can be achieved without money issues playing a role.

However, Quins chairman Michael Wanjala downplayed the politics between his club and KRU, saying that it still early days hence no need to panic.

“That’s far from the truth but of course you will hear a lot of nonsense from disgruntled elements. The relationship between us and the Union has never been better,” said Wanjala, explaining that Habimana came few weeks before the start of the season and players have taken long adapting to the new methods.

“It will come good as we progress since we are looking at getting the right combinations,” said Wanjala noting that even though things are tough in terms of cash flow, it’s a problem that is cutting across board especially for clubs that are not backed by corporates.

“We are confident we will be able to get some sponsorship. We are talking to some companies and we see some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Wanjala.

KCB v Homeboyz (The Den, Ruaraka), Harlequins v Menengai Oilers (RFUEA), Western Bulls v Nakuru (The Bullring, Kakamega), Kabras Sugar v Blak Blad (Kakamega Showground), Mwamba v Nondescripts (Railway Club, Nairobi), Kisumu vs Impala (Mamboleo Showground, Kisumu).

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