NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) has said the much anticipated test matches between the national XV side and Portugal that were scheduled for June 7 and 11 in Nairobi have been postponed, not cancelled as earlier stated.
Union chairman Mwangi Muthee confirmed the development to Capital Sport saying the 24th ranked side was unable to make the trip due to unavoidable circumstances and have replaced them with South Africa titans Western Province.
The national side who are preparing for their Confederation of Africa Rugby Cup Division 1A title defence in Madagascar, that also serves as next year World Cup qualifiers, will take on the South African elite side June 7 before playing the winner of Bamburi Rugby Super Series a fortnight later.
“We were supposed to play Portugal but unfortunately they were unable to come but it’s a fixture are looking how we will fix it in future so it’s not cancelled but postponed. We are okay because Western Province will be coming to boost our preparation before we depart for the qualifiers,” the KRU chief told.
“We are not going to spare any recourse with the team because our focus right now is on 15s. We must prepare well for us to head to the World Cup and that’s why you are seeing none of them is playing in the Super Series.
“Namibia and Zimbabwe have assembled a full professional team so it’s only Kenya who will be a little bit amateur but we can do it and we call upon all to support the boys since we have a golden chance of qualifying,” he added.
On Thursday, information from the Union stated the Portugal tests had been cancelled following travel advisories on Kenya by UK, France, America and Australia due to what they said were looming threats of terror attacks.
Head coach Jerome Paarwater, has bolstered his squad by calling professional winger William Ambaka who plays for French based Lyon Olympique and national rugby sevens stars; vice captain Collins Injera, his younger brother Michael Agevi, Oscar Ouma, Billy Odhiambo, Patrice Agunda and Michael Wanjala.
“The sevens players are not guaranteed automatic slots, they have to prove themselves in training. We had to call them since they have been active in the HSBC Sevens World Series so we want them to fit in the system as we look forward to assemble the strongest squad possible.
“The team is in high spirit and all the 7s players named are training so we want to make our country proud but it will not be easy since all the teams are equal to the task. We will treat each game as a final and give it our best,” Team Manager Wangila Simiyu told Capital Sport.
The team that had a two-month tour of South Africa where they featured in the Vodacom Cup will head to camp after the final build up.
Kenya will be seeking to defend her continental title when they take on host Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe in a round robin format and also qualify for the global showpiece for the first time ever.
England will host 2015 World Cup from September 18 to October 31.