Shujaa to face South Africa in Dubai 7s

Friday October 13 2017

Dennis Ombachi of Kenya (front) blocks Alexandre Lagarde of France during their match on the second day of the Rugby Sevens tournament in Hong Kong on April 8, 2017. PHOTO | ANTHONY WALLACE |

Dennis Ombachi of Kenya (front) blocks Alexandre Lagarde of France during their match on the second day of the Rugby Sevens tournament in Hong Kong on April 8, 2017. PHOTO | ANTHONY WALLACE |  AFP

By GEOFFREY ANENE
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Kenya has been placed alongside defending champions South Africa for the Dubai Sevens, the opening round of the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series set for December 1-2.

Shujaa will also come up against Singapore Sevens winners Canada and Africa Sevens champions Uganda in Pool A according to the draws released on Friday.

The team, under the tutelage of coach Innocent Simiyu, struggled last season finishing 12th with a mere 63 points.

The teams has already resumed training ahead of the new international season, where Simiyu’s charges will also compete at the Rugby Sevens Cup in the US and Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018.   

Kenya’s best performance in Dubai remains a third place finish achieved during the 2012 edition.

In last year’s edition, Uganda and Canada finished bottom in their pools in Dubai after losing all matches. The two met in Dubai in the 13/14th place final where Canada triumphed 20-17.

Kenya beat Canada 22-14 in Challenge Trophy quarter-finals, while South Africa won all their matches including beating Fiji 26-14 in the final. Before traveling to Dubai, Kenya will use the Assupol International Sevens in South Africa on October 28-29 as a build-up tournament. 

Former Kenya Sevens vice-captain Gibson Weru has predicted a tough outing for Kenya Sevens

Reacting to the pool, Weru said, “It’s an exciting, but tough pool.”

The former Nakuru scrum-half, who manages Menengai Oilers, noted that five-time Dubai Sevens champions South Africa, and Canada, who have not gone past group stage in Dubai in the last four editions, will pose the greatest threat to Shujaa.

“Our main challengers in our pool are South Africa and Canada. They are very tough and physical sides. We cannot underrate our neighbours Uganda, but we have an upper hand in this East African battle,” Weru told Nation Sport.

He said Kenyans should expect an improved performance from Shujaa.

Innocent Simiyu is in his second year in charge and has now learnt the ropes. Preparations have also been good, so Kenyans should expect better performance from Simiyu,” said Weru, who featured in the same team with the former Impala Rugby Football Club player, that reached the Sevens World Series final for the first time during the Adelaide leg in Australia in 2009.

Dubai Sevens draw:

Pool A – South Africa, Canada, Kenya, Uganda

Pool B – England, Scotland, France, Spain

Pool C – Fiji, Australia, Wales, Japan

Pool D – New Zealand, USA, Argentina, Samoa.