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Kenya Sevens Rugby coach Innocent Simiyu to step down   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Sevens Rugby coach Innocent Simiyu will not extend his term in office after his contract expires in October.

Simiyu, one of the most successful coaches to have guided Kenya rugby team, says he has moved on and will seek work abroad after his position together with his technical bench was declared vacant without any of them stepping down.

“Me applying for again to coach the national team, I haven’t really thought about it. I have moved on. I will not apply for the job,” said Simiyu here on Saturday.

“I believe they (Kenya Rugby Union) have made the right decision. There are many good coaches locally and international who can help the team achieve their targets.”

Simiyu will have to go despite posting the best performance for Kenya in the World Series. It was widely expected the Union would renew his contract but there is bad blood between the technical bench and the KRU administration.

Under Simiyu, Kenya was able to surpass the 100 points mark in World Series as it attained 104 marks. The last time the team came close to this was in 2013 under Englishman Mike Friday when they collected 99 points on the circuit. Friday was sacked and he moved on to secure a coaching contract with USA.

In June, Simiyu owned up to save his players from being punished when he said it was his mistake the team blocked sponsors signage in Paris leg of the World Series in protest of their unpaid allowances and bonuses.

He was temporary sacked before he was reinstated for the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.

Other coaches who have guided the Kenya Sevens team in the last decade include Benjamin Ayimba, Felix Ochieng, Friday, Paul Treu (South Africa).

The new season starts in November with Kenya hosting the Safaricom Sevens series before heading to the World Series in Dubai in December. KRU said it will have a new coach by November.



Kenya searches for new rugby Sevens coach, incumbent Simiyu yet to step down

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya is on the lookout for a new coach to take over the country’s Sevens rugby team ahead of the new season in November - despite the incumbent coach still claiming his position.

Head coach Innocent Simiyu and his technical team learned of the search through social media when the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) invited interested candidates to apply on Wednesday.

Speaking to Xinhua, Simiyu denied he had resigned from his position. “I did not step down,” said Simiyu on Thursday in Nairobi. “The KRU sent us termination notices, saying that the union is suffering financial difficulties.”

Arguably Kenya’s most successful national coach, Simiyu and his team of Geoffrey Kimani (strength and conditioning coach), Lamech Bogonko (physiotherapist), and Erick Ogweno (team manager) will now have to re-apply for their positions.

The move has left many Kenyans surprised, with Simiyu having led the team to finish with its highest ever points total last season, with 104. Prior to that, Kenya’s biggest points tally was 99, achieved by English coach Mike Friday, who has been the USA Sevens coach since 2013.

Reacting on social media to Simiyu’s expected sacking, Friday said he was surprised and unaware of Simiyu having stepped down from his position.

“Did I miss something or has coach Simiyu stepped down?” wrote Friday on his Twitter account. “Simiyu, you are a good coach and a good man and we were all seeing good things from the Kenya team in the rugby World Series. I hope there is a resolution and you are able to continue the good work and journey you and your boys are on.”

The technical bench’s last assignment with the team was at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July in San Francisco, where the team finished a distant 16th, a pale shadow of the side that had reached the semifinals at the 2009 and 2013 editions.

But the real problem came to the fore in Paris at the final round of the World Series, when the team blocked the signage of their sponsors Brand Kenya in protest of non-payment of their allowances, bonuses and salaries.

This led to a temporary loss of sponsorship which was only resolved after government intervention.

Speaking to Xinhua on Thursday, KRU director of rugby Thomas Odundo said the tenure of the current technical bench expires on October 31 and that they are free to re-apply.

Kenya’s first assignment next season starts in November, when the country will host nine overseas teams for the Safari Sevens, before heading to Dubai in December for the World Series.

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