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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyans staring at relegation from Rugby Sevens World Series

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The relegation bug is closing in on Kenya, Wales and Japan as the World Series for rugby sevens enters its penultimate stages in London and Paris.

"We definitely need a miracle to survive and that will need everyone involved in the game to dig deep. The players will play a major role. Unless we get to the quarterfinals in the next two legs, we are not safe," former Kenya Sevens team head coach Benjamin Ayimba said.

Kenya sit on 26 points, one above Wales and four ahead of Japan on 22.

"Japan is our main threat here, that’s the reality," added Ayimba.

"After the Asia tour of Hong Kong and Singapore, we have a difficult task.

"We will only be safe if Japan don’t come to party in the next two legs, which I think is not possible."

Kenya collected three points from Singapore to remain 13th in the World Rugby Sevens Series table with two rounds remaining this season.

The London leg is on May 25-26, before the Paris leg on June 1-2 which wraps up the 2018-2019 season.

The Kenya team returns home on Tuesday, knowing that one of themselves, Japan and Wales will be relegated in Paris, with Ireland taking their position for the 2019-2020 Series.

The World Series is formed of 15 core teams, with one more team being invited on a regional rotational basis to form the 16 teams in each tournament.

Coach Innocent Simiyu, who led Kenya to its highest ever points haul of 104 last season, blamed poor governance for the team’s woes.

With elite senior players boycotting the team over a pay dispute, Kenya was forced to rely on inexperienced youngsters, hindering the team’s progress and exposing it to the threat of relegation.

"The fundamental problem is not the players but the leadership at the union.

"There is a lot of dishonesty and politics.

"If the governance structures change to allow the stakeholders of the game to sit at board level, then we will not have a better focused team," said Simiyu.

Kenya is also banking on continental giants South Africa to secure automatic Olympic Games qualification by finishing in the top four slot in the World Series.

This will allow Kenya to dominate the Africa Olympic qualifiers in January.

The United States lead the series with 145 points, ahead of Olympic champions Fiji on 142, with New Zealand in third with 130 points ahead of South Africa on 121, while England are fifth with 107 points.

Only the top four will gain automatic entry to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

 

             

 

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