Kenya Sevens have been drawn against World Champions and 2014 silver medallists New Zealand for this year’s Commonwealth Games due in in Gold Coast, Australia in April.
According to the draws released on Thursday by the ‘Club Games’ organisers, Shujaa will also face fellow African side Zambia and familiar adversaries in the World Rugby Series Canada in Pool “C “of the competition.
The Kenya Lionesses have meanwhile been drawn in Pool “A” of the women’s competition alongside New Zealand, Canada and continental rivals South Africa.
Kenya Rugby Union Director of Rugby Thomas Odundo is confident the Kenyan sides can go all the way to the final.
“The draws are quite favourable and the onus is upon our sides to give their best and go all the way to the finals.
“Since it is only one team going to the next round, competition will be stiff and we have to prepare well to take on the big boys,” Odundo said.
FIJI, WALES FACE-OFF
The rugby sevens competitions will run from April 13-15.
In the men’s draw, Pool “D” has reigning Olympic Games champions Fiji, Wales, Uganda and Sri Lanka as England, Australia, Samoa and Jamaica clash in Pool “B”. Champions South Africa headline Pool A that also has Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.
Unlike the last two Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Delhi respectively, where the top two teams went through from each pool, the Gold Coast Sevens event will see only the top-ranked team from each pool qualify for the semi-finals.
Kenya’s run in Glasgow 2014 ended in the quarter-finals after losing 19-7 to New Zealand.
The current Kenya Shujaa arrived in New Zealand Monday afternoon for this weekend’s Hamilton Sevens, the fourth round of World Series.
Kenya are in Pool “D” together with Mike Friday’s USA, Canada and rebuilding Samoa.
The Innocent Simiyu-coached side kick-off the campaign against Samoa on Saturday at 1am in their opening encounter. Their second match will be at 4.26am against Canada, before taking on the USA at 8.22am. Kenya are currently placed ninth on the world standings with 23 points.
They collected 10 points by virtue of reaching the cup quarterfinals at last weekend’s Sydney Sevens in Australia.
Kenya lost 17-0 to Series champions South Africa in the main Cup quarterfinals, their second appearance at the stage this season after Dubai. In the fifth place semi-final Shujaa went down 24–5 to Fiji at the Allianz Stadium, Sydney.
The Innocent Simiyu-coached side, who were placed in Pool B had opened their campaign with a narrow 5-7 loss to Argentina, before bouncing back to post a 17-14 win over France, following this up with a 26-12 win over Wales to finish second in pool B behind Argentina.
The top two sides in each pool from the women’s competition advance to the semi-finals as they compete for the medals at stake.
Pool A: South Africa, Scotland, PNG, Malaysia
Pool B: England, Australia, Samoa, Jamaica
Pool C: New Zealand, Canada, Kenya, Zambia
Pool D: Fiji, Wales, Uganda, Sri Lanka
Pool A New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Kenya
Pool B Australia, Fiji, England, Wales