Samurai International jet into Nairobi Monday at 2.45pm ready to challenge for their maiden Safaricom Safari Sevens title this weekend.
The Samurais, who largely comprise New Zealand All Blacks players, is the first team to arrive among the 11 foreign squads that are vying for the coveted title in the 17th edition extravaganza.
Meanwhile, Kenya Harlequin earned the last place at the championship when they clinched the National Sevens Circuit title by reaching the Driftwood Sevens Main Cup final on Sunday.
Losing in the finals
Quins humbled Strathmore 12-0 to once again make the final.
“Little magician” Lote Raikabula’s Samurai side is out to atone for the sins that have seen them fail to scale the last hurdle, losing in the finals in 1998 and last year.
New Zealand Rugby hold the Samurai’s tour dear since the country’s Sevens head coach legendary Gordon Tietjens will arrive later to monitor eight of the players who are likely to form his line up for the new season.
“Excitement is slowly building up with tickets selling at several joins in the country and the arrival of Samurai will heighten it further,” said the tournament’s director Godwin Karuga.
Samurai lost to Bristol University Select 7-33 during the 1998 final while went down 12-31 to Samoa in the final last year.
Bristol Barracudas, who will be led by former Kenya Sevens captain Humphrey Kayange, are expected on Thursday at 6.30am alongside core IRB World Sevens sides Spain, who reached Plate semis last year, at 2.45pm, and Portugal 7.05pm.
Two-times champions South Africa Sevens Academy, formerly Emerging Boks, are also due Thursday at 2.25am while another South African side, Hamilton Raiders, who won Plate in 2009, and 2005 losing finalists Western Province are expected on Friday at 1pm.
Teams from the neighbouring countries Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia will arrive either on Thursday or Friday. Karuga disclosed that Safari Village will be a beehive of activities but the highlight will be the live performance of some key local artists on Saturday night.
Contract with artistes
Karuga said they will be signing the contract with the artistes today before they are unveiled.
“More so, there will be an exclusive area that will be dedicated to the family where it will be an alcoholic and smoke-free area. “This area shall have many activities including sports for children,” said Karuga.
Meanwhile, MultiChoice Kenya/SuperSport will officially announce its sponsorship to this year’s Safaricom Safari Sevens today at 9.30am at the Nyayo National Stadium.
This year’s championships will for the first time be relayed live for three days from Friday, which is a shift from previous years where it was transmitted live on Saturday and Sunday.
Head of Africa-SuperSport Andre Venter and Kenya Rugby Union chairman Mwangi Muthee will preside over Monday’s ceremony