Rugby Rugby

Kenya in easy Safaricom 7s pool


NAIROBI, Kenya, November 3- Hosts and top seeded defending champions Kenya were handed a relatively easy group for the Safaricom 7s international tournament that kicks off in Nairobi on Friday.

At the same time, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) are targeting to make the annual affair one of the rounds of the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series in three years.

According to the draw released on Thursday, the holders who are seeking a third successive title will kick-off their defence with a clash against French ninth seeds, Grenoble at noon (+3GMT) at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.

Rwanda and neighbours Uganda will be the opposition for the holders in their second and third Pool A matches.

“We are ready for the games and all teams we expected are here and I have no doubt in my mind that Kenya will win,” KRU chair, Mwangi Muthee said during the announcement of the draw.

Group B that is the toughest of the four pools will be fronted by Emerging Boks, South Africa’s national team junior side who have the unenviable task of facing New Zealand rugby 7s champions, Auckland Vikings who are making their debut in the tournament in their opener.

Britain’s Bristol University and domestic national rugby 7s titleholders, Mwamba RFC will lock horns in the other Pool B encounter.

Mwamba, who took up the slot reserved for Shujaa, Kenya’s B team, are the rank outsiders in that group.

“Next Wednesday, the national 15s side will take part in a Confederations of Africa Rugby match and most members of Shujaa are in that squad and we could not field them,” the chairman explained.

Samoa, who boast of the services of the 2010 leading IRB World Series top try scorer, Mikaele Pesamino in their side were drawn in Group C where they will start by entertaining Spain before taking on American outfit Belmont Shore and Goshawks.

Tricky Pool D will witness Zimbabwe take on British side Samurai who will field a team made largely of Fijians, with two members of the latter’s national side featuring. British Army and Tanzania complete the line-up.

Muthee revealed IRB observers were in the country to monitor the event as KRU strives to have it included in their World Series calendar.

“Don’t be cheated, IRB are watching this competition and that is why we played it in a stadium. We want by 2015, Safaricom 7s to become part of the IRB circuit. They have their spies and observers here.”

Meanwhile, Kenya Police have laid out elaborate security detail that includes road closures to ensure the three-day event passes on without incident.

Two major inlets to the venue, Langata Road (Lusaka Roundabout to Makadara Roundabout) and Aerodrome Road will remain closed to motorists apart from those bearing VIP stickers from organisers for the duration of the tournament.

Ticket holders will have reserved packing at South B’s Highway Secondary School, All Saints Primary School in Makadara and Kenya Railways Sports Club with designated shuttle buses ferrying them to the venue.