Olympics-bound Kenya train their guns on Dubai 7s

By: AYUMBA AYODI

There is no resting for the triumphant Kenya Sevens team that arrived Monday from the 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers in South Africa as the World Rugby Sevens Series beckon in two weeks.

Kenya edged out Zimbabwe 21-17 to become the third team sport from Kenya to ever qualify for the Olympics after the men’s hockey and women’s volleyball sides. Rugby is making its debut at the 2016 Summer Games after nine decades.

Kenya Sevens have been handed a tough Pool “D” in the Dubai Sevens, the opening leg of the 2015/2016 World Rugby Sevens Series in December 3-5 in the United Arab Emirates. The 2009 and 2013 Rugby World Cup semi-finalists will take on England, who have qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, as well as Australia and Wales.

Head coach Benjamin Ayimba reckons that Dubai will be a tough test but said the qualifier prepared them well. He hinted at minimal changes to the team, which resumes training on Wednesday.

“I know it’s a tough calling but I am bound to make one or two changes to the team,” said Ayimba, who is to monitor his skipper Andrew Amonde, William Ambaka and Billy Odhiambo, who have soft injuries.

KEY TRIO INJURED

Amonde has a sore knee while Ambaka incurred a hip injury and Odhiambo has an ankle injury.

The coach praised his charges for their fighting spirit that saw them edge out Zimbabwe at the death from a well-crafted Dennis Ombachi try.

“Zimbabwe brought everything to the game but Kenya wanted it more and carried the day,” said Ayimba. “Some quarters criticised Ombachi’s selection but he rose to the occasion to take Kenya to the Olympics.”

Deputy captain Collins Injera said: “We have shown what family is all about, and we have revived the Kenyan spirit of fighting through tough times and never giving up until it’s over.”

England were fourth in last season’s World Series after winning in Tokyo and finishing second in Wellington while Australia finished second in Dubai and London to wind up fifth. Wales were 12th and Kenya 13th last season.

Kenya only managed two points from last year’s Dubai outing, losing to Canada 12-19 in the Shield final.

Reigning series champions Fiji head Pool “A” while Dubai’s defending champions and the second-ranked side in the series last season, South Africa, highlight Pool “B” against Scotland, Samoa and newly promoted Russia as 12-time series champions New Zealand face Mike Friday’s London winners USA, France and Portugal in Pool “C”.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION