Saturday, July 14

Tusker Safari Sevens

Despite having watched it on TV in France and even played it in PE classes growing up, I know very little about rugby. I'm not utterly perplexed when I watch it, the way I am with cricket, but I never really bothered to learn the rules. Nonetheless, I decided to check out the Tusker Safari Sevens tournament in Nairobi a few weeks ago.

Normally, I'm not a fan of including the corporate brand name that frivolously precedes the name of college bowl games and other sporting events, but in this case it seems necessary. The well-manicured fields and endless Tusker signs created an entrancing sea of green and yellow. That weekend, it was apparently the place to be for the young and prosperous of Nairobi, for whom the actual rugby seemed to take a backseat to consuming large amounts of Tusker. The only beverage for sale in the immediate vicinity of the pitch was Tusker cans, also available in six pack form, and I saw at least one guy buy a case from a vendor taking it over to his cart. There was also a guy who took it upon himself to fire up the crowd by pulling people out to stand in front of the bleachers and chug a beer (see below).

The rugby itself, was quite enjoyable, despite sitting behind a group of white locals (from Karen, if that means anything), some of whom apparently share a fashion sense with the Late Night Shots crowd. It didn't take long to figure out how many points you get for making it to the endzone, or when you get to kick the extra points (or whatever they're called) from right in front of the post, as opposed to from a sharp angle. I still don't understand why you sometimes kick the ball to yourself as you're running, but I like it, and I'm sure there's a reason. The short games suited my attention span perfectly. We got to see Kenyan club Shujaa shut out Uganda; Tunisia lose a heartbreaker to South Africa's Mpumalanga Pumas (pumas don't live in Africa, if you were wondering); Kenya destroy Morocco; Japan ("land of the rising sun", as the announcer was want to remind us) edge out Zambia; Cote d'Ivoire beat another Kenyan club; and maybe a couple more, I can't quite recall. We didn't come back for the final the next day, in which South Africa's Emerging Boks beat Zimbabwe.

The spirit of the event was well put by a guy I befriended in line for the bathroom after I told him, to his surprise, that I was rooting for Kenya. After bemoaning the fact that Kenya wasn't doing that well in the tournament, he looked at me and slurred, "but it's ok, as long as everybody gets wasted."

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