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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Kenya Sevens rugby eyes top performance ahead of World Series

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Sevens rugby head coach Paul Murunga faces a litmus test in his first season as he eyes to hit two birds with one stone.

Murunga is eying a top four finish in the World Series, which will see Kenya secure automatic qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“The focus is to maintain the high standards we have and continue to impress on the global stage. I want the team to finish in the highest possible position to help us secure Olympic qualification,” said Murunga on Saturday in Nairobi.

World Rugby has confirmed that the top four teams in the men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series in the 2019 season, which starts in Dubai on Dec. 1, will confirm their places in Tokyo Games.

Guedel N’Diaye, the Rugby Africa’s competitions director, said the 2019 season will have the African Olympic qualifications as the main competition in the continent.

“With the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup complete, focus now shifts to the Olympics. The focus, of course will be on the Rugby Africa Gold Cup and its 15 intensely competitive matches. We have enjoyed wonderful rugby from very professional teams and in particular, we have seen improvements in quality at all levels on the field by the players,” said N’Diaye in a statement.

“Next year, Rugby Africa plans to continue to progress at the same pace with a focus on the men’s and women’s Sevens with an eye on Olympic qualifications.”

With the World Seven Series top four teams claiming automatic qualification, International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that an additional six teams will qualify through the men’s and women’s World Rugby regional association Olympic qualification tournaments.

Regional association tournaments will take place in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America from June-December 2019. The top ranked team from each regional tournament will secure qualification.

The final opportunity for Olympic qualification will be at the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament, where 12 teams, comprising of the next two highest ranked teams based on 2019 regional qualification rankings from each region, will be invited to participate.

           

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