One last chance for Kenya Simbas
Kenya’s 15-aside rugby team fondly known as Kenya Simba have three months to prepare ahead of their last chance to qualify for their World cup appearance in France.
The Paul Odera-coached side will join four other rugby-playing nations in their quest to win the sole ticket to the 2023 Rugby World Cup final.
In the run-up to the repêchage tournament, World Rugby has confirmed that the matches will be held in Dubai at the Sevens Stadium in November 2022.
Kenya represents Africa and is joined by Hong Kong for Asia as Portugal and the United States of America also make the cut representing Europe and America respectively.
Kenya Simbas finished second in Africa after losing 36-0 to Namibia in the Rugby Africa Cup final played in France in July.
Portugal was the first team to qualify for the Final Qualification Tournament after finishing third in the Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022 combined rankings.
The USA will be the highest ranked team at the repêchage at 17th place in the world. They played in every Rugby World Cup bar in the 1995 edition in South Africa.
They missed out on automatic qualification after losing 52-51 to Chile on aggregate after a two-legged qualifier.
Portugal finished third in Europe behind Georgia and Romania with both teams qualifying for the Rugby extravaganza next year.
The Portuguese ranked 19th in the world played once at the World Cup in 2007 where they finished bottom of Group C’ after losing to New Zealand, Scotland, Italy and Romania.
Simbas have a positive record against the Portuguese.
Kenya played Portugal in 2015 winning 41-15 in a test match at the RFUEA ground.
Hong Kong, which has never qualified for the World Cup, is ranked 22.
They have played Kenya three times with the Asian outfit winning twice in 2017 and 2018 40-30 and 42-17 respectively while the Simbas capitalised on home ground advantage to win once in 2016 (34-10) at the RFUEA ground.
The four teams will compete in a round-robin format over three match days from November 6 to 18, where the team that scores the highest points claims the final slot at France 2023.
The winner of this competition will be in Pool C against Wales, Australia, Fiji, and Georgia.