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Kenya rugby team not under pressure
to win World Cup repechage in France 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya 15s rugby head coach Ian Snook says his side is not under pressure to deliver the final ticket to the 2019 World Cup ahead of their departure to Marseille, France on for the Repechage tourney.

Kenya’s team, Simbas, have wound up their training and will be departing Wednesday for the final World Cup qualifier tourney in Marseille where they will come up against Germany, Hong Kong, China and Canada.

The Repechage tournament will run on Nov. 11-23. However, Kenya team will first head to Bucharest, Romania for two friendly matches.

It is the only build up matches the team will have, which has left coach Snook disappointed with the preparations.

Three other friendly matches against Namibia, British Army and Loftus 2,000 have all been called off.

“We had a program and despite some of the plans not being fulfilled, I still believe the team is strong to challenge at the top level,” said Snook in Nairobi.

Snook said his side has improved its defense ahead of their World Rugby Repechage tournament, which saw them fail to beat Namibia for the automatic ticket to Japan in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition.

“Our defense has been one of the problems during the Gold Cup and we had to work on it before going to Marseille,” said Snook.

“It will not be an easy competition but the players know what to expect in France. We have what it takes to qualify and its down to hard work.”

Canada are the top seeds in the tournament followed by Germany, Kenya and Hong Kong, China.

The winner of the tournament, which will be played on robin format, will secure a slot in Pool B alongside New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

Kenya will send a 30-man squad plus technical bench to Marseille for the repechage which presents a last opportunity for a team to qualify for Japan 2019. All other 19 teams for Japan 2019 have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, this year’s Kenya Safari Sevens tournament will take a 12 team format. This is in line with other international events like the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. The tournament will be held on Nov. 9-11 in Nairobi.

Kenya Rugby Union has confirmed that seven international team will compete in the event, which is being used as a curtain raiser ahead of the World Series circuit starting in Dubai on Dec. 1.

The foreign teams include Samurai, Spain, Portugal, Golden Lions, Uganda Cranes and South Africa side Red Wailers. Kenya will field two sides Shujaa and Morans.



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