Wednesday, February 6, 2013

RUGBY: Kenya Sevens the rave in USA

 Kenya’s Willy Ambaka (left) is tackled by England’s Mat Turner during the Cup final at the Westpac Stadium on day two of the IRB Rugby Sevens World Series in Wellington last weekend.

Kenya’s Willy Ambaka (left) is tackled by England’s Mat Turner during the Cup final at the Westpac Stadium on day two of the IRB Rugby Sevens World Series in Wellington last weekend.  NATION

By AYUMBA AYODI [email protected]

Elaborate festivities have been lined up from Thursday night for Kenya at the USA Sevens tournament in Las Vegas.

The long weekend celebrations starts with USA Sevens parade today at 6.30pm (Friday 5.30am - Kenyan time) before a red carpet reception at Boulevard Theatre in Las Vegas at 7.30pm (Friday, 6.30am).

According to Kenyans Connect and Watu and Company, USA-based diaspora organisations, who are behind the plans, Kenya’s ambassador to USA, Elkanah Odembo, will be the chief guest.

Among other dignitaries expected at the function that will also mark 50 years since Kenya’s independence are Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Mwangi Muthee and corporate executives.

“Kenya Sevens has been invited and attendance is free,” said a statement from the organisers. “Fifty years of sporting. Kenya takes pride in our sportsmen and women,” Odembo said.

We are particularly proud of our Sevens team and we are confident that this jubilee year will be Kenya’s year at the USA Sevens.”

Tomorrow, Kenyan rugby fans will converged on UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium for the start of the USA Sevens where the national team will take on Canada on Saturday 3.44am (Kenya time).
It will coincide with the second Kenyans Connect Golf Tournament to be held at Angel Park Golf Club starting 8am (7pm - Kenyan time). The cost of the tournament will be $ 99 (Sh8,613) per individual and $380 (Sh33,060) for a foursome.

For the first time ever, fans and spectators will have the opportunity to experience Kenya in a designated area, dubbed Kenya Korner, at the USA Sevens Fans festival, an expo festival event that caters to all the 60,000 rugby fans and spectators.

The area is earmarked for promoting sports, crafts, food and vendors from all the 16 represented nations at USA Sevens.

“It’s always exciting welcoming Kenya Sevens and Kenyan community to Las Vegas,” said Jennifer Gachui of Watu and Company.

“USA Sevens attracts thousands of Kenyans in the diaspora to its events, and this year we expect to see many more who will come to rally behind Kenya team. USA Sevens has always provided a visible forum for Kenyans to express their support to their team,” explained Alex Owino of Kenyans Connect.

Kenya sevens rugby team moves to Las Vegas with heightened expectations after reaching its second ever final in the IRB World Sevens Series in Wellington.

They go into Las Vegas Sevens having reclaimed their second place in the World Series with 56 points, behind New Zealand (77) whom they stunned in the semi-finals. They will face South Africa, Canada and Uruguay in Pool B at Las Vegas.

The team exhibited a gutsy show with great character, discipline and resilience, rallying from behind against South Africa and defending champions New Zealand to triumph 21-20 and 19-14 respectively and reach the final against England.   

Their collective spirit and work rates were outstanding both in attack and defence especially when they dismissed France (24-12), Argentina (12-0) and Tonga (17-10) in the preliminaries.
Kenya would also rally from 12-0 to lead 19-12 before the Britons level 19-19 at the stroke of full time. The Britons would win 24-19 in sudden death.

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