The Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) has invited six World Rugby Sevens Series core teams to take part in this year's Safari Sevens.
Mike Friday’s USA alongside South Africa, England, France, Canada and Spain - who occupied positions two, four, five, eight, 11 and 12 respectively in the 2018/19 Sevens Series - are among the invited nations for the tourney that will be held at the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi from October 18 to 20.
As has been the norm in past editions, the hosts will field two teams – Shujaa and Morans.
Three former Series teams namely Japan, Russia and Portugal have also been invited. African champions Uganda as well as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana, Red Wailers, Apache and reigning Safari Sevens champions Samurai complete the list of teams invited.
Speaking at the launch of the 23rd edition, KRU vice chairman Thomas Opiyo is optimistic that this year’s event will be much better. “We have invited high level teams and we are confident that we will pull them off. In two weeks’ time, we will know who has confirmed. The experience for fans will be a notch higher than in 2018 when it was low key because we had not held it in 2017. It will be an exciting tournament.”
According to Opiyo, the Safari Sevens will offer the participating teams an opportunity to gauge themselves ahead of the 2019/20 season. “There’s no prize money in this tournament. It’s more about getting a competitive tournament. We believe inviting the top echelons of teams will offer that competition,” added Opiyo, while hinting at reduced ticket prices for this year's edition.
Last year, advance regular tickets retailed at Sh500 on Friday and Sh1,200 for Saturday and Sunday while advance VIP tickets were sold at Sh2,500 on the weekend.
Regular and VIP tickets at the gates cost Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 respectively. Season tickets went for Sh2,000 across all days (regular) and Sh4,500 for VIP. Children were charged Sh500 per day.
Kenya, who begin training on August 13, will be using the Safari Sevens to prepare for Africa Men’s Sevens slated for November 8-9 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Just like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Namibia, Ghana, Botswana and Nigeria will also use the tournament as preparations for the continental event.
The Africa Sevens will serve as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Only the winner will qualify for the summer games.