NAIROBI, November 13 – National sevens team has been drawn in a tough Pool D for the opening round of the 2015/16 HSBC Rugby Sevens World Series; Dubai 7s that takes place December 3-5.
Kenya who are in South Africa ahead of this weekend’s 2016 African Olympics qualifiers, will take on England, Wales and Australia as they seek to improve on their disappointing 13th finish last season.
Head coach Benjamin Ayimba who has 27 players at his disposal was upbeat they will have a good outing this term since they had an intensive pre-season that saw them camp at Nandi Hills for high altitude training.
“Our main focus has been to build a side for the first six tournaments in the series but the dilemma we fall under is we have very quality players so we will have to rotate them and give everybody a chance,” Ayimba declared when he announced the travelling squad for Africa Olympics qualifiers.
Champions Fiji headline pool A alongside Canada, Japan and Argentina, while Dubai’s title holders and the series’ second ranked side last season, the Blitzboks of South Africa, start in pool B against Scotland, Samoa and newly-promoted core team Russia.
Twelve-time series champions New Zealand face former Kenya 7s head coach, Mike Friday’s USA who are the most recent cup winners at the 2014-15 series finale in London, as well as France and Portugal in Pool C.
With nine months out from rugby sevens’ debut at the Rio 2016 Olympics, this season’s series is expected to be competitive as team’s that will have qualified for the Summer Games will use the tournament as a build-up.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset, said: “These are exciting and ground-breaking times for rugby sevens as we head into an Olympic Games year and the opportunity for our top men’s and women’s players to showcase their talents to new audiences on sport’s greatest stage.
“The road to Rio 2016 promises to be both competitive and compelling and I am sure we will attract, engage and inspire record numbers of new fans along the way.”
Kenya will be out this weekend to seal the sole African slot in the regional qualifiers that has attracted 12 teams.
Ayimba’s side who are seeded top by virtue of being the only core team, open their campaign against Mauritius then face Senegal before wrapping up their group A fixture with Madagascar.
Apart from Zimbabwe, Kenya’s main opponents are Namibia who has eight World Cup players in their squad.
Dubai Sevens Pools
Pool A: Fiji, Argentina, Canada,Japan
Pool B: South Africa, Scotland, Samoa, Russia
Pool C: New Zealand, USA, France, Portugal
Pool D: England, Australia, Wales, Kenya
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2015-16, men’s
Round 1 – Dubai 4-5 Dec 2015
Round 2 – Cape Town 12-13 Dec 2015
Round 3 – Wellington 30-31 Jan 2016
Round 4 – Sydney 6-7 Feb 2016
Round 5 – Las Vegas 4-6 Mar 2016
Round 6 – Vancouver 12-13 Mar 2016
Round 7 – Hong Kong 8-10 April 2016
Round 8 – Singapore 16-17 April 2016
Round 9 – Paris 14-15 May 2016
Round 10 – London 21-22 May 2016