New Zealander Paul Feeney has been unveiled as Kenya Sevens technical director.
While unveiling the 56-year-old former Fiji Sevens and Western Province coach on Friday, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Oduor Gangla said Feeney has been handed a three-year contract.
Gangla said Feeney’s role will not only see him head the Kenya Sevens team but also assist Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera in strengthening the 15s team structures, National Under-20 (Chipu) and Kenya Lionesses.
Gangla said outgoing Kenya Sevens head coach Paul Murunga will be redeployed elsewhere but the rest of the Kenya Sevens hierarchy remains with Kevin “Bling” Wambua staying as the deputy.
Gangla said that he believes Feeney’s vast experience in rugby spanning 25 years and especially 10 in sevens rugby where he guided Fiji to World Cup victory in 2005, should spur Kenya to great heights.
“His experience cuts across the 15s and sevens versions both in men and women’s rugby and that is the expertise we need in this journey to ensure Kenyan rugby achieves full attention,” said Gangla. “We want to be among the top world rugby playing nations.”
Oduor explained that his short term goal is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Africa Sevens qualifier from November 9 to 10 in Johannesburg, South Africa (men) and November October 12 to 13 in Tunis, Tunisia (women).
However, Feeney’s immediate assignment is the Safari Sevens tournament slated from October 18 to 20 at the RFUEA grounds.
“This is a great opportunity to handled such a brilliant and exciting team that oozes a lot of talent. It’s a great challenge but we like it that way,” said Feeney, who described Kenya Sevens team as unique. “This is a team that has punched above its weight despite meeting full professional sides.”
Feeney said that he will find ways to blend both the 15s and sevens versions to produce strong teams across. “I will analyse what has been working for the team, their strength and weakness for a smooth transition but I won’t change the teams’ flair and culture,” said Feeney adding that he would seek to mediate between the union and senior players who have stayed away from national assignments.