Kenya U20 coach discusses Barthes Cup triumph, World Rugby U20 Trophy aspirations

Wednesday, May 29th, 2024 14:35 | By
Kenya U20 squad lineup ahead of Samoa match. PHOTO/ KRU/Facebook
Kenya U20 squad lineup ahead of Samoa match. PHOTO/ KRU/Facebook

Barely a month after beating Zimbabwe to win the 2024 Barthes Cup trophy, Kenya U20 coach Simon Jawichre has set his eyes on the World Rugby U20 Trophy.

The former Catholic Monks tactician was handed the reigns at the U20 side six weeks ahead of the Barthes Cup, the task at hand; to lead Chipu to continental success after falling short in the previous two editions.

Kenya U20 Barthes Cup Victory

Kenya would stage stellar performances; winning all three matches in the round-robin formatted tournament to be crowned Champions. Most notable was their win against the hosts Zimbabwe in the final match, the final, with both sides carrying double wins from their previous rounds.

Kenya would rally to overcome an early 10-0 deficit to silence the home crowd in a dominant show that saw them dethrone the double champions; making up for the heartbreak in Nairobi a year earlier.

Kenya U20 celebrate against Namibia.  PHOTO/Rugby Africa/Screengrab/Youtube
Kenya U20 celebrate against Namibia. PHOTO/Rugby Africa/Screengrab/Youtube

Jawichre pinned down the team’s success to an experienced core group and the team’s discipline.

“The group from last year has helped the new boys settle in since we are using the same blueprint from last year. This is because we didn't get enough time to introduce new systems.

They are also really receptive to instructions, both on and off the pitch. They take instructions well. This makes it easy for the technical bench to make adjustments during a match.” Jawichre noted while speaking to People Daily.

Positional switches

The tactician also pointed out how positional switches won the Zimbabwe game.

We had to twitch our defense a little to combat Zimbabwe who like playing in their half and using their speed to break away. Since Chirchir is a good chaser and also good at cross-covering, we pushed him to the wing. It paid off as he turned once and got the guy at a point in the game.

Watching Zimbabwe's opening two matches against Tunisia and Namibia also enabled us to plan for them well.”

Ahead of the final match changes affected to the squad, Daniel Kipchirchir was pushed out wide, Michael Wamalwa filled in at outside center while Philip Okeyo came off the bench to start at inside center.

Kenya U20 players in a past session in preps for World Rugby U20 Trophy . PHOTO/KRU/Facebook
Kenya U20 players in a past session in preps for World Rugby U20 Trophy . PHOTO/KRU/Facebook

He also lauded local clubs for what he termed a monumental role in the preparations leading to the tournament.

“I was onboarded six weeks before the tournament, so I had to go to clubs for players. This helped because the players were still working with their clubs even when we were not in training.

All I needed to do was keep talking to the coaches and I am grateful that coaches listened when I wanted particular players fielded in certain positions. I think it's good that we have such a relationship with clubs because we are feeding off them.”

Commenting on the upcoming World Rugby U20 Trophy, he remains optimistic of his charges registering positive results.

“It is a big assignment and we want to and strongly believe we will post better results than the previous tournament. we know we will not get away with some of the mistakes we got away with in Zimbabwe.” Jawichre said.

The World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024 will take place in Scotland from July 2-17, with Kenya seeded first in pool B alongside Netherlands and Uruguay.

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