By: AYUMBA AYODI
The Kenya Sevens team will have a challenging match ahead in the World Rugby Sevens Series after they were handed champions South Africa and Dubai Sevens finalist England, at Cape Town Sevens due this weekend.
Kenya lost to England 19-12 at the pool stage in Dubai as the Britons went on to reach the final before losing to the classy Fijians 28-17.
Kenya slumped to France 7-33 in Bowl semi-finals as South Africa settled Plate, beating Australia 19-14 in the final in Dubai.
Kenya starts the Series at 11th place with five points, England are second with 19 points while South Africa fifth on 13.
Kenya lost to Canada 5-24 in Bowl final at last year’s Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth.
This year Cape Town gets to host the Africa leg of the Series.
South Africa beat New Zealand 26-17 in the Cup final at the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens last year that was a repeat of the previous year victory. England lost to Fiji 0-31 in the Plate semis.
Besides England and South Africa, Kenya will renew their rivalry against invitational side Zimbabwe in Pool “B”.
Zimbabwe, who are not part of the core World Rugby Sevens Series sides, are still fresh on Kenyans mind.
It’s only three weeks ago when Kenya Sevens struggled to beat the Cheetahs 21-19 and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with Dennis Ombachi scoring the decisive try after the hooter.
Kenya met South Africa at the pool stage at Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens last year but lost 7-38.
Apparently, it was Kenya Sevens’ last outing with former coach Paul Treu, who is a South African. Kenya met the Springboks five times last season but failed to win any of the outings.
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Chairman Richard Omwela, who travelled to Dubai with the team, said it was too early to start judging the team but hastened that the team could have performed better especially at the pool stages in Dubai.
“We had the match against Australia where we led 12-0 until the last two minutes and held England at 5-5 at the break,” Omwela said. “These are matches that we should have won.”
However, Omwela said it was a great show from the team, noting that it was the first time they played together what with four players, Jeff Oluoch, Frank Wanyama, Robert Aringo and Nelson Oyoo on debut.
Ben Ryan’s Fijian side highlights Pool “A” at the sold-out Cape Town Sevens where they face Dubai Sevens Plate losing semi-finalists Argentina, Scotland and Russia.
After their two victories over New Zealand helped USA to finish third in Dubai, Mike Friday’s side will play Australia, Wales and Portugal in Pool “C”.
Sir Gordon Tietjens’ New Zealand, having finished fourth in Dubai, complete the top four seeds and await Samoa plus Dubai silverware winners France (Bowl) and Canada (Shield) in Pool “D”
SOURCE: DAILY NATION