Kenya rugby at sixes and sevens, stares at big drop

Monday May 27 2019

Fiji's Josua Vakurunabili (left) goes to tackle by Kenya's Jeff Oluoch during their rugby union sevens pool match on the first day of the London 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series event at Twickenham Stadium in west London on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |

Fiji's Josua Vakurunabili (left) goes to tackle by Kenya's Jeff Oluoch during their rugby union sevens pool match on the first day of the London 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series event at Twickenham Stadium in west London on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |  AFP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya’s national sevens rugby team is now staring at relegation in the face after finishing, last alongside Spain, at last weekend’s London Sevens tournament to drop one place to 14th in the world series.

Kenya must now finish above other relegation contenders Wales and Japan, especially after the Kenyans lost to Japan 26-17 in the semi-final for 13th place in London, the penultimate leg of the series.

Fiji won the tournament Sunday night with a commanding 43-7 hammering of Australia in the final.

When Alasio Naduva flew over in the corner twice in the 13th and 14th minutes of the match, it was clear Fiji were heading for the trophy and top of the series standings with one tournament to go. Australia had no answer with Joe Pincus the lone try scorer.

Aminiasi Tuimaba scored a hat-trick of tries for the victors in the fourth, seventh and 10th minutes with Vilimoni Botitu and Josua Vakurunabili accounting for the other touch downs.

Waisea Nacuqu and Livai Ikanikoda converted twice each. Series leaders USA beat France France 31-14 to win bronze.

While Kenya lost 29-21 to Scotland in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals, Wales edged out Japan 17-0 at the same staged only for the former World Sevens champions to lose to Scotland 33-7 in the semis.

That saw Kenya collect one point, Wales manage five while Japan, who stunned England 29-14 in the final for 13th place, got three points.

Kenya and Wales swapped places with the latter moving to 13th with 30 points and Kenya to 14th with 27 points. Japan remained 15th and in relegation zone with 25 points.

Kenya now must finish ahead of Japan in Paris to avoid relegation.

The good news for Kenya is that South Africa have secured an automatic place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after they collected 10 points from London to cement their fourth position in the series with 131 points.

The four top placed teams after the end of the series will qualify directly for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the rest going through their respective continental qualifiers.

England, who were contenders for the fourth place faltered to drop to 13th place final where they lost to Japan.

Bush Mwale and deputy skipper Jeff Oluoch landed a try each but Johnstone Olindi converted one as Kenya trailed Japan 14-12 at the break.

Naoki Motomura and Katsuyuki Sakai had easily cut through Kenya’s defence to give their team a 14-0 lead.

Yoshikazu Fujita and Kazushi Hano’s tries secured victory for Japan to give them hopes of avoiding relegation. Andrew Amonde’s double cancelled Robbie Fergusson and Jamie Farndale’s tries as Kenya claimed the lead from Scotland 14-12. Farndale’s second try put the Scots ahead again 19-14 at the break.

Oluoch sliced through at the middle to score from a tackle and complete a good exchange. That gave Kenya the lead once again, 21-19, only for Farndale to seal his hat-trick and reclaim the lead before Nyle Godsmark sealed it off for Scotland.

Additional reporting by World Rugby

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