By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s former rugby 15s captain Wilson Kopondo
made his return to the national team ahead of the World Cup
repechage in Marseille, France next month.
Kopondo, who last
featured for the Kenyan team last year in the Cup of Nations at
Kings Park Sports Ground in Hong Kong, has received the nod from
head coach Ian Snook and will join the 30-member team for
Kenya lost to
Namibia in the Africa qualifiers and has to go through the
repechage, which brings together three other teams who lost out
in continental qualifiers. Germany (Europe), Canada (America)
and Hong Kong, China (Asia) will all take part in the
The winner of the
four-team tournament, which will kick off in Marseille, France
on Nov. 11, will earn the last ticket to play at the 2019 Rugby
World Cup in Japan.
“The team is strong
and we need to start playing strongly against top teams,” Snook
said on Tuesday. “To get better and better we must test
ourselves against the best and that should be the next step.”
Snook also called in
Kenya Sevens stars Collins Injera, Andrew Amonde, Samuel Oliech,
Willy Ambaka and Nelson Oyoo to bolster his squad as he expected
fast and quick games against the opponents in Marseille.
This is the first
time the Kenyan sevens team players will play 15s rugby on the
international stage since 2015.
A new addition to
the team is Kenya’s utility player William Reeve, who caught the
head coach’s eye on the local sevens circuit.
The team, which has
been facing financial difficulty since moving to camp two weeks
ago, will depart for Bucharest on Oct. 31 and play against
Romania in a buildup match on Nov. 3.
“Our opponents in
the Africa qualifiers for the World Cup capitalized on our
mistakes to win. We did poorly in our line-outs and easily
conceded turnovers in the ruck. These are areas we must improve
to lock down the game,” the coach added.
Kenya will kick off
the repechage campaign on Nov. 11 against Canada, who has never
missed a World Cup. Hong Kong, China will be their next opponent
on Nov. 17.
The two sides met at
the Cup of Nations last December in Hong Kong, with the hosts
winning 40-30 en route to retaining the trophy.
Kenya’s last match
will be against Germany on Nov. 23. The two teams met last year
in Nairobi with Kenya losing 30-29.
rugby team eyes Dubai Sevens win
By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s women’s rugby team will treat the
Dubai Sevens tournament as part of its preparations ahead of
next year’s qualifiers for World Series core status and the
Tokyo Olympic Games.
Head coach Kevin
Wambua believes Kenya will weather the storm and gain more from
the second round of the 2018-2019 Women’s World Rugby Sevens
Series, which kicks off in Dubai on Nov. 29.
“Our main goal is to
be ready for next year. It will be big for us as we have
qualifiers for the Women’s World Series as well as the Olympics
in Tokyo. We want to use this tournament to test some of the new
players coming into the system,” Wambua said here on Tuesday.
Kenya lost to China
in last season’s qualifiers for core status in the World Series.
However, Wambua is confident his team will do better, after
gaining more experience from the tournament and at the
Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.
“Our training so far
has been very positive. I am happy with the new crop of players
we have drafted into the team. They have a lot of potential and
talent and it will not take long for me to fine-tune their
skills and be ready for the Dubai contest and the challenges we
expect in the Olympics and World Series qualifiers in 2019,” the
Kenya has been
grouped in Pool A in next month’s Dubai Women’s Sevens and will
again clash with Commonwealth Games champions New Zealand, who
won the season opener at the Glendale Sevens in the United
States last weekend. Kenya will also face Ireland and Russia.
It will be the
second appearance for the Kenyan women’s team in the Dubai
Sevens. The first time was in 2016 when they participated in
Clermont before heading out to Brazil for the Rio Olympics.
Pool B contains the
United States, the runners-up at the Glendale Sevens, the 2017
Dubai defending champions Australia, England and China. Pool C
will see Canada take on France, Spain and Fiji.
Top two teams in the
pool will proceed to the main cup finals.