Kenya Rugby Union Chairman Odour Gangla has defended their decision to cancel the 2019/20 season saying the period for the campaign was about elapsed and the COVID-19 cases are increasing daily, meaning there was no exact date of return.
The Union on Thursday announced the cancellation of the 2019/20 and their decisions caused an uproar among fans and clubs who had invested a lot of time, energy and money. However while speaking to a local TV station Y254, Gangla said they had no option but cancel the season and the champions could not have been picked due to the competition’s format.
Determined by competitive match
He added that picking a winner would have been unfair to all the teams that had qualified for the knock stage, giving an example of Kabras who topped the season in 2018/19 but failed to bag the Kenya Cup title at home. He also cited the likes of Bulls and Kisumu who qualified for the Kenya Cup despite having not topped the standings in the regular season.
“What was left was the knock out stage. All the results at that stage stand and we will use it when it comes to seeding for next season. A winner is determined by a competitive match so you cannot decide the winner. An example is last season, Kabras finished top in the regular season but lost the final yet they had the home advantage. In the championship, Kisumu finished fourth while Bulls were third in the regular season but they qualified for Kenya Cup. So it is not automatic and that is the dilemma we had. And then we didn’t want to head in the new season with pending issues of the past season. Taken an example, if things normalize in December and we have to finish last season matches, it would put us in a difficult situation yet the issue we are facing is beyond our control.” he told Y254.
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The fans believe it was rush decisions and that the Union should have waited longer before giving a ruling. The Chair on his part insists that their decision came at a right time since the 15s was scheduled to end on 25 April while there was no guarantee that the COVID-19 would be dealt with soon.
“We were to have playoffs and conclude the season on 18th April. The timings of this season has come to an end. What triggered our decision is that there has been a spike in the number of incidences and if you look at the advisories from the Government the situation is likely to get worse. The question was when do we have the playoffs then and our season has come to an end?” he said.
Other federations options
“Other federation postponed the seasons to the new window like the Olympics will be in 2020. The World Rugby has pushed backwards their the tournaments, with tentative dates set for September and October because at this period there is no World Rugby competition. For our case, our offseason starts in May and we are supposed to have a four-week rest and an eight week preseason. Our new season starts in July according to KRU regulations.”
“Even if the corona thing is sorted we will need to give teams a time to get ready it will be irresponsible for us to have the games when the teams are not in the right condition. When we had world war II rugby was not played it was not different this time. So do we want to hold onto this season and create a backlog of the fixture? Our new season is scheduled for July and if it cannot start we will make the same decision.”