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|Current season, competition or edition:
2014 Safari Sevens
|Formerly||Tusker Safari Sevens|
|Sport||Rugby union sevens|
|Motto||Africa's premier rugby sevens tournament|
|No. of teams||16|
|Venue(s)||Safaricom Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya|
|Most recent champion(s)||Kenya 2013|
|Most titles||Kenya (6)|
|Qualification||By application and invitation.|
The Safari Sevens, is an annual rugby sevens tournament held in Kenya. The tournament is run by the Kenya Rugby Football Union. The competition is promoted as being Africa's premier rugby sevens tournament drawing crowds of over 20,000  to the weekend event.
It is unusual amongst modern tournaments in that it is contested by numerous national representative sides from Africa and beyond, by professional sevens outfits, professional and amateur club sides, invitational teams, universities and schools. The competition was originally held at the RFUEA Ground, Ngong Road, Nairobi. At that time the South African company Supersport was broadcasting the tournament live on DSTV.
After 15 years at the RFUEA Ground and growing attendances annually, the tournament was taken to the Nyayo National Stadium for the first time where it run in 2011 and 2012. The rationale for the move was to allow room for more spectators as the RFUEA Grounds had in previous years been packed to the rafters.
In 2013 it was moved to its current home at the Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani.
Since the earliest days, rugby in Kenya had relied on a regular influx of foreign touring sides in order to test the mettle of the local teams and to provide opposition for the representative sides such as the Scorpions RFC and East Africa. The coming of professionalism to rugby in the 1990s all but dried up these tours and it was decided that a means had to be found of reinitiating the influx if the quality of rugby in the country was not to stagnate.
The Rugby Patrons Society decided to put in place a seven-a-side tournament and invite a number of foreign national and club teams to participate. Robin Cahill (a founder member of the society and the man whose brainchild the tournament is) led a team of Patrons to run all the early competitions and oversee its integration into the Kenya Rugby Football Union's calendar. The trophy, a bronze of two elephants, is named in his memory.
The Inaugural Tournament 1996
The inaugural tournament took place in 1996, Public School Wanderers, who had supported Kenyan rugby for many years, brought a strong squad as did the Welsh Exiles (a team managed by the Welsh Rugby Union to nurture Wales qualified players living outside of the Principality) captained by future Welsh International captain, Colin Charvis. The tournament also included several international teams (Arabian Gulf, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe) as well as Selkirk RFC and a Cumbria Schoolboys team. The chairman of the referees was the famous English referee Ed Morrison and he took charge of the final between the Public School Wanderers and Zimbabwe. Chester Williams was there as guest of honour and to present the trophies to the winners which included Kenya (who beat Uganda 38-12 in the Plate final) and Cumbria Schoolboys who defeated Shujaa 29-10 in the Bowl Final.
Expansion and Growth 1997-2007
In 1999 the Kenya Rugby Football Union applied and won the right to host the Africa Zone Qualifying Tournament for the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens Finals. This qualifiaction competition was combined with the 2000 tournament to make it into a longer 3 day festival of rugby rather than cancel the Safari Sevens. The Kenya sevens side did not therefore take part in the Safari Sevens; Shujaa the Kenya 'A' side carried the hopes of the home crowd and did not disappoint, winning the cup. In the World Cup Qualifying tournament Kenya, captained by Sammy Khakame, defeated Swaziland and then Madagascar at the beginning of day two and then Namibia in the semi-finals on day three, thus qualifying to go to Argentina the next year as there wer two slots open to the African Zone. Zimbabwe defeated Kenya in the final.
The tournament has grown in stature with a large increase in crowds numbers. In 2004 the first women's team played in the tournament.
The 13th edition of the Safari Sevens saw a rise in the gate fee of KSh200 per person to KSh800, in addition the weather was colder than usual but this did not produce any reduction in the crowds. The spectators included Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi (who presented the prizes) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, as well as various other celebrities from the world of Kenyan showbusiness ensuring a constant flow of Hummers, Jaguars and Range Rovers into and out of the car park.
The Fiji Barbarians made their debut at the Safari Sevens in 2008. National teams taking part were Botswana, Emerging Springboks, France A (Les Blues), Japan, Namibia, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. In addition Samurai Sevens (a professional rugby invitation side) and the Kenya A sevens team (Shujaa) and University of Paris also took part. Bristol University Select (a team put together from Bristol University, Clifton RFC and the professional Guinness Premiership side Bristol) returned to take part in the Safari Sevens yet again; they have participated in every Safari Sevens ever staged.
Kenya won the competition beating the Emerging Boks in the final, 31–12. The continued increase in the number of people attending the event and this year's rise in admission caused many critics[who?] to call for an upgrade in the quantity and quality of seating available for spectators.
Other foreign teams included the perennial Bristol University Select from the UK, Hamilton Raiders RFC from South Africa, Les Bleus Sevens from France, and Western Province schoolboys. There was also a Kenyan invitation side the Chairman’s Select. Other local entrants included various Kenya club veterans sides, ladies and schools teams.
Kenya Harlequins won the veterans competition beating a Rift Valley Academy Veterans 17–5, Western Province took the schools title with a 19–0 win over Nyanza, while Mwamba RFC I won the ladies title with a 54–0 win over Vivi.
See the main article 2010 Safari Sevens
See the main article 2011 Safari Sevens
See the main article 2012 Safari Sevens
The future of the Tournament
The tournament, which was previously staged in June or July each year, will in future be held in September or October to attract more participation from international sides and foreign clubs. Despite there being over KSh 40 million in sponsorship from various sponsors the Safari Sevens still does not offer any prize money. There are some commentators of the opinion that until prize money is offered the tournament will continue to be subject to late withdrawals from major teams.
In the first year the tournament was run on a shoe-string budget provided by the Rugby Patrons Society and the KRFU. In its second year the tournament was sponsored by East African Breweries Ltd (EABL), the makers of Tusker beer and became known as the Tusker Safari Sevens.
In 2008, EABL sponsored the event with a donation of KSh24 million. In 2009 this was increased to KSh 26 million, of which KSh20 million was allocated to go directly to KRFU for the running of the tournament and for their development work in Kenya. The other KSh6 million was earmarked to be spent on various peripheral supports, most notably media during the event.
EABL remained the sponsors up to, and including, the 2009 event; Safaricom became the main sponsor in 2010. Safaricom donated KSh25 million, which was to be divided into two parts; Ksh22 million being directed towards the running of the annual tournament, the remaining KSh3 million was spent on sponsoring a Media Centre at the event.
Table of Previous Winners
a. ^ In 2000 Kenya won the right to host the Africa Zone Qualifying Tournament for the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens Finals. Rather than cancel the Safari Sevens they combined both events into a three day festival. The Kenya sevens side did not therefore take part in the Safari Sevens; Shujaa the Kenya 'A' side carried the hopes of the home crowd and did not disappoint, winning the cup.
- Safari Sevens site: History
- Kenyapage.net: The History of Rugby in Kenya
- Daily Nation, 25 May 2010:  Tickets on sale
- Kenyapage.net: The History of Rugby in Kenya
- Daily Nation, May 11, 2010 : Tietjens for Safaricom 7s
- Safari Sevens 2009: Magazine