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Kwanthanze, a Well that never dries

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As the Term Two Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) championship head to the finals in the County level today in all the 47-counties, four-time Federation of East Africa Secondary Schools Championship (FEASSA) volleyball champions Kwanthanze Girls head coach Justin Kigwari is already training his guns for the prestigious National and East Africa titles.

After the county stage, the competition will enter regional level starting from next week but of significance though for Kigwari, who has turned Kwanthanze to be a force to reckon with in volleyball since he joined the Machakos based team in 2010, is the National gong and a fifth East Africa triumph but first he will have to defend the county and Eastern region titles.

Kwanthanze will take on Vyulya Girls this afternoon in Machakos County games finals to be held at Tala Boys and with the two finalists already qualified for the Eastern region games set for Makueni Boys from June 17-23, Kigwari is beaming with confidence his charges will reign supreme again.

“Its not like I’m not taking County and regional levels seriously but I know what I want and I’m confident with my team that’s why I’m dreaming of the national and East Africa titles as early as now,” Kigwari charged.

Ever since winning their maiden national crown in Embu in 2013 and successfully defending it in Kakamega the following year, Kwanthanze have dominated not only in Kenya but also in East Africa.

They followed their heroics in Embu by lifting their first ever region title in Lira, Uganda before defending it in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2014.

The team, which is located just few kilometers from Machakos town, has won four East Africa titles in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 thus catapulting their name to the lights at home and across region.

“This year we are going for nothing but clean sweep although I know my opponents are prepared to defeat us and end our supremacy but we are ready to fight,” Kigwari breathed fire.

During this year’s AMACO Tournament held last month in Eldoret, Kwanthanze lost 3-1 sets to arch-rivals Cheptil in school category in the finals but that is seemingly not a big deal as they know when to spike.

New blood

Kigwari added that after his side was deprived of squad depth last year, he has added new faces from Form One to the roaster as he seeks to build yet another all-conquering team after losing four of his top guns that completed their High School studies in 2018, all signing with the former Kenyan Volleyball Federation women’s league champions Kenya Pipeline.

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The quartet of Betty Sifuna, Esther Mutinda, Gladys Ekaru and Metrine Wanjala were recruited by the Embakasi based team in February this year.

In 2017, the school -renowned for producing potent talent- was a feeder to many local clubs with fast-rising Malkia Strikers and Kenya Pipeline attacker Sharon Jepchumba, who took home the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2017 national and East Africa, Jane Mumbua of DCI  and KCB’s Lorraine Chebet among those who graduated from the school that year.

Under former Principal and Athletics Kenya Senior Vice-president, Paul Mutwii, Kwanthanze also shaped World class running talent including the Bydgoszcz 2008 IAAF World Junior 3000m steeplechase champions, Jonathan Ndiku and Christine Kambua Muyanga.

Elizabeth Mueni, who won women 3000m steeplechase silver at the same championship, also hailed from the same school that made history by having five of its student make the national team for the top junior event.

This year’s Nationals will be held in Kisumu running from July 26 to August 4 with East Africa action taking place from August 12-26 in Arusha, Tanzania.






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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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