Govt forces Kenya Rugby Union to rehire 7s coach

NAIROBI, Kenya — The Kenya Rugby Union was forced to rehire national sevens coach Innocent Simiyu on Monday, four days after sacking him in a payments dispute.

Government sports minister Rashid Echesa intervened and announced the decision after meeting with KRU head Thomas Opiyo.

Echesa also said his ministry will work with the KRU to resolve the latter's failure to pay the national sevens team its salaries since May, plus government-approved bonuses.

He added the KRU will consult with the ministry on "serious decisions."

Simiyu was fired on Thursday after taking responsibility for his sevens team masking a government-sponsored logo on their jerseys during the Paris Sevens on June 9-10. The players did it to reveal the KRU's failure to pay their salaries, and bonuses worth 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($990) to each player from the sponsorship.

Hours after Simiyu was fired with four months left of his two-year contract, the government cancelled the sponsorship worth 20 million Kenyan shillings ($198,000), criticizing the KRU and players, but told the players to approach the tourism ministry for the bonuses.

The Kenyan parliament said on Friday it was going to investigate the KRU's financial issues.

Simiyu will lead Kenya into the Rugby World Cup Sevens next month in San Francisco. Kenya reached the semifinals in the previous two editions.

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