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Rasta Heads North

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Recently, Rasta Rasivhenge, one of South Africa's top referees with a world of experience behind himn, accepted an invitation to take an active part in a camp arranged by the Kenyan Rugby Union to add value to referee development. What follows is a report from Kenya.

2019 was the second edition of the High Performance camp since 2017 that Kenya has hosted before the inaugural Sevens series where 24 first division teams and second division teams all gather for a six-leg competition hosted in different venues in order to compete for the series title.

There were 24 referees invited to the camp, which consisted of division one referees, division two referees and future developing referees that got the opportunity to take part in the camp.

The camp was based at the home of champions, which is a famous town called Kapsabet as it is known for producing all the famous Kenyan runners and Olympic champions.

The idea behind the camp was to upskill the referees by providing them with resources that they were not exposed to before. So Kenya Rugby Union decided to invite Rasta Rasivhenge from South Africa as he is known from the Sevens circuit where he refereed the 2016 Olympic gold Medal final in Rio, two Sevens World Series finals in Moscow in 2013 and in San Francisco in 2018.

Also present was John Bosco Muamba who has refereed several tests in Africa and is currently head of training and education in Africa for Rugby Afrique. Other notable members present were referee manager of Kenya, Alfred Makena and top CMOs from the different regions including regional society chairpersons.

The three-day camp began with introductions of all referees and officials that would be involved at the camp, which was followed by the key topics that would be covered over the course of the camp. These main topics were centred on decision-making skills, mental skills, set phases, strength & conditioning and finally team activities to build a strong squad for the 2019 sevens series.

The camp turned out to be a momentous occasion as the participants dived deep into learning and extracting as much as possible in a short space of time.

Each day was packed but the most satisfying element of the camp was the fact that the referees brought in great camaraderie and enthusiasm, which made it an absolute pleasure to work with them.

The main theme of the camp was centred on: “The referees must do their best on the field as the players want the referee’s best effort”. This was evident in the way the referees conducted themselves at the camp, which brought in an abundance of zest in all activities that management had planned and executed.

Throughout the camp, there was also great opportunities to conduct outreach programs such as the I PLAY REFEREE program, which is headed by John Bosco Muamba. The design of the program is to recruit youngsters whilst they are in school to play and referee at the same time. It was a great opportunity to go to Kapsebet High school and conduct the program in front of hundreds of scholars who played rugby in their different age groups. This worked very well as the learners were interested in the project that was brought.

It was a major success as Rasta Rasivhenge presented the school with an I PLAY REFEREE kit that was provided by John Bosco Muamba as the success of the program has produced up-and-coming stars like Lawrence Ishuga who represented his school at 1st xv level and represented his club side Nakuru at 1st xv level. He is one of the up-and-coming bright prospects that participated in the program and the Kenyan Rugby Union are delighted to have him as an ex-player and program graduate in their systems.

Because of the success of the High Performance camp, the Kenyan Rugby Union are considering having another camp at the end of the Sevens circuit in order to kick start their fifteens season as they now see the benefits of upskilling their referees in order to get them game ready and tournament ready.

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