Shujaa play Senegal as Rugby World Cup Sevens kicks off
Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu is focused on delivering Rugby World Cup Sevens (RWC 7s) qualification by defending the Africa Sevens Cup hosted by Uganda at the Kyadondo Rugby Club from 8:00am.
Kenya will open the campaign against Senegal in the first round while the last edition runners up Burundi and the hosts Uganda will kickstart their run against Burundi next.
“The main target here is to qualify for the Rugby World Cup. We are confident that we are going to make the country proud as the defending champions. We want to keep it that way as we head to the World Cup as Africa one. The squad is experienced with only one debutant- Amon Wamalwa who was impressive in the 2021 Safari Sevens while playing for Chipu,” Shujaa coach Simiyu told Wikendi Sports.
Team Kenya will be skippered by Nelson Oyoo who is one of the eight players who have been retained from the squad that just returned from World series competitions in Singapore and Vancouver.
The other three debutants are Augustine Lugonzo, Timothy Mmasi and Alvin Otieno. For the RWC 7s ticket, Shujaa will need to be in the medal bracket as all the three medallists will qualify for the 7s World Cup to be hosted in Cape Town in September.
Kenya has already earned one of the two slots joining South Africa in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July.
Uganda’s Rugby Cranes Sevens coached by Tolbert Onyango hopes to play well on home soil eyeing a third title to be at par with the second most successful side, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will face off Burkina Faso in their opener match.
“It is good pressure because it is the pressure to do well at home after two years in the cold,” Onyango told the media.
The previous edition held in 2019 had the two East African giants set up a Migingo Derby in the Cup finals that were won 29-0 by Kenya. This was Kenya’s fifth title which was also a priceless Olympics qualification after successfully defending the title that was taken back from Uganda which had bagged it twice in 2016 and 2017.
The continental event is making a resurgence after missing out in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19. A total of 14 countries namely Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Burundi and Botswana will rumble for the five precious tickets to be earned by the medallists while the rest will contest for rankings in the two-day event that will renew continental rivalry.
Runner’s up, Ulinzi Sharks, who are Waters’ biggest challenger in the title race also started their campaign on a good slate by beating the Nanyuki side, 30-17, but have been rested this weekend, with Cereals Women emerged heavily in the category. They’re scheduled to play Nanyuki today and KDF Women, tomorrow as they seek to bounce back, or bounce out.
“Our focus is to defend the Super Cup title once again, and we’re glad we have started well by winning our first two games and we’re ready to go in our remaining matches,” Nairobi Waters Queens head coach Jack Habett said.