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Kenya’s impressive rugby sevens players go unpaid

October 25, 2013

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya rugby officials will meet with their impressive sevens team on Friday to explain why players’ salaries have been “delayed” soon after the recruitment of former South Africa coach Paul Treu on a big-money contract.

The KRU said in a statement the delay was because the body had “not finalized our full season budget with our sponsors” and asked the players, who made this year’s World Cup semifinals, for patience until a new sponsorship deal was signed.

Some players reportedly expressed unhappiness with the problems and threatened to boycott training after it was announced former Springboks sevens coach Treu would receive $11,000 a month after tax and a host of other benefits.

KRU chairman Mwangi Muthee told The Associated Press the union would sign with a sponsor on Monday and defended Treu’s appointment.

“He will come here and build careers and build a team,” Muthee said earlier Friday.

With regard to the cash flow problems at the union and the players’ payments, Muthee said “all will be clear next week.”

Kenya has made rapid progress in sevens, reaching the last four at the World Cup in Russia in June and becoming a regular contender in the world series alongside traditional rugby countries like New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji. The team has made so much progress that Kenya views rugby sevens as its best chance of international sporting success away from its famed distance runners, with its cricket team in decline and football team relatively unsuccessful.

The appointment of Treu, his former South African assistant coach Vuyo Zangqa and a group of South African specialists on a consultancy basis was confirmed on Wednesday, with Kenyan rugby hoping the large investment will lead to a medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, where sevens will make its debut.

Along with his salary, which is hefty by African standards, the KRU also said Treu would receive benefits such as airline tickets to and from his home country, a car and a house. Zangqa will receive a bonus of $250,000 if the team qualifies for the Olympics and also will earn between $50,000 and $250,000 if Kenya wins a medal. The KFU didn’t say what Treu’s or the other coaches’ bonus payments would be.

Kenyan media reported the package offered to the new coaching team was one of the biggest-paying in any sport in the East African nation.

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