The Kenyan Conundrum

'The Kenyan Conundrum' isn't just a great posting title. It's real. So what is the Kenyan Conundrum and, for that matter, what is a conundrum?

According to, a conundrum is 'a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words.' In Kenyan Rugby terms the riddle is the success of Kenyan Rugby 7s.

It's immense. They are currently ranked 6th in the world in the official IRB rankings and recently qualified for their 4th consecutive 7s World Cup. Earlier this year in the Rugby 7s World Cup in Dubai they made the semi finals, 'taking some money off mobile phone providers Safaricom who dared put a bet on them' according to the Kenya Rugby Football Union website (which begs the questions - how do you take money off a company that bets on you? Is this corruption, a conflict of interest or a unique form of motivation? And why is their Union proudly reporting that their players are involved in betting schemes?).

At the recent Adelaide 7s Kenya topped their pool, beating South Africa along the way, defeated Wales in the quarter-final and Argentina in the semi-final before losing the final (their first final appearance) to South Africa.

It was only the fourth time that Kenya had topped a Pool. This season alone, Kenya has beaten South Africa (twice), New Zealand (twice) and Fiji once.

So where's the pun, the play on words? That would be 15-a-side Rugby. Kenya's 15-a-side Rugby success can be summed up in no words. Well maybe one - none.

Currently ranked 39th in the world, between those other African Rugby powerhouses Uganda and Ivory Coast, Kenya was only admitted into the IRB in 1990 even though Rugby was first played there in 1909, the Rugby Football Union of Kenya was formed in 1923 and the British Lions toured there in 1955 (whether they played any games there or just visited Mount Kilimanjaro isn't reported).

The 'National Teams' menu on the website is 'updating!', as is the 'Development' menu. There are 16 news items, 5 are about the National under 20s team, 7 about the 7s team's success in Adelaide, and 4 about a local tournament. The National 15-a-side team doesn't get a mention, indeed more information about the team can be found on the IRB website. That's why we know that there are 38 registered clubs in Kenya and 33,669 registered players including 4,007 senior male players. This is almost as people as are fans on the Official Kenya Rugby Sevens Team Fun Page on Facebook (which unfortunately also has no information on the 15-a-side team).

This is what the Kenyan 7s jersey looks like. There are no known images of what the 15-a-side jersey looks like or even what the team is called.

It's only because of the IRB website that we know that Kenya has a 15-a-side national team because their 2008 victories over Cameroon and Uganda and their losses to Tanzania and Tunisia are listed. Sadly no fixtures are scheduled for 2009. Must be all their players are off playing 7s.