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Governors tear into Sports CS over stalled stadium

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AYUMBA AYODI

By AYUMBA AYODI
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BERNARD ROTICH

By BERNARD ROTICH
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Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and his Nandi counterpart Steven Arap Sang have taken on the government over sluggish renovations at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium.

Mandago said he fails to understand why the central government and especially the Ministry of Sports want to micromanage the construction at the stadium from Nairobi when the county government has the fully-fledged public works department that can help.

“Even if the central government is funding it, they can give us the responsibility of supervising the project. You can’t build a stadium in Eldoret from Nairobi,” said Mandago.

“We have wasted a lot of time waiting for everything from Nairobi. Let them engage the contractors but have us to oversee the work,” explained Mandago adding that most of the athletes, who hail from these two countries have suffered due to lack of facilities.

Mandago said that the Kipchoge Keino stadium can be completed within six months if the Ministry of Sports is to engage them. “I can assure the government that we can deliver in terms of quality and timelines,” said Mandago, who was speaking during the Athletics Kenya Athletes’ Conference at Sirikwa Hotel, Eldoret.

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However, Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amina Mohamed, who attended the conference was non-committal on the issue.

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Mandago said that his county government has undertaken to build the 64 Stadium, Eldoret where a modern track fit for time trials will be ready in 18 months. “We have the budget and design in place. We had challenges with space but we can only put up a training track for trials and not a major championships,” said Mandago.

Mandago revealed that his government is putting a high altitude training centre in Timboroa. “We had started work but encountered challenges with the contractor hence we had to re-tender and work should be completed in one year,” said Mandago.

Sang said that it’s a shame that athletics is the only sport that has strongly kept the country on the world map raging from Olympics and Commonwealth Games yet they have no standard facilities.

“Athletics is one of the key resources this country has but we simply have no facilities for them. It’s a shame as a country,” said Sang, who called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.

“I would like to ask the president to personally intervene the completion of the three stadiums which are crucial for athletes’ preparations. The athletes are the brand ambassadors of this country and we need to honour them by providing good environment in terms of better facilities,” said Sang.

Construction of Kipchoge Keino in Eldoret and Kamariny in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County has stalled since 2017 with contractors leaving the site due to non-payment.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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