Rugby Rugby

Ayimba returns as Kenya 7s head coach

Benjamin Ayimba/File

NAIROBI, September 11 – Benjamin Ayimba has returned to the national sevens team as head coach, after Kenya Rugby Union appointed him to take over from Felix ‘Totti’ Ochieng ahead of the Africa 2016 Olympics qualifiers and 2015-16 Rugby Sevens World Series.

Former Kenya 15s scrum-half , Newton Ong’alo who served as an assistant team manager in 2011 has been appointed new team manager to replace long serving Steven Sewe who did not get the job despite having applied.

Ayimba, a former Kenya 7s decorated international, has been handed a one year contract to see him make a comeback to the team after being relieved off his duties in 2011 when former boss, Mwangi Muthee was elected chairman.

The decision to re-hire Ayimba was arrived on Thursday night after conducting interviews that attracted 13 candidates including, Homeboyz head coach, Paul Murunga and former head coach, Mitch Ocholla.

Ayimba who led the team from 2006 to 2011will be given a free hand to select his two assistants with Murunga tipped to be one of them.

“I’m glad that the appointment has come my way. I look forward to meeting the playing unit on Saturday as we place our immediate focus on the upcoming Safari Sevens and the 2016 Olympic qualifiers which are seven weeks away,” the former Kenya Sevens skipper,” underscored.

The fate of South Africans, assistant coach, Vuyo Zangqa and strength and conditioning coach, Graham Bentz is uncertain with reports suggesting the two could be sent packing after facing the disciplinary committee for going on strike when the players downed their tools in July.

The new technical bench’s first task will be to assemble the 31man provisional squad set begin training on Saturday ahead of the November 14 and 15 Africa Rio De Janeiro Olympics qualifiers in South Africa.

The former Impala and Nondescript back-row first assignment will be in the October 2 to 4 Safaricom Sevens where Kenya will be seeking to reclaim the Main Cup title they last lifted 2013.

Ayimba is Kenya’s most successful local coach having guided the team to the Rugby World Cup Sevens semi-finals in Dubai 2009, a season Kenya will be remembered for beating the then champions Fiji 26-7 in the quarters before Argentina denied them the final ticket after losing 12-0.

He also guided Kenya to their first ever Rugby World Sevens Series final, when the team lost 26-7 to South Africa in the Adelaide 7s in 2009, a season where they finished sixth overall in the series with Collins Injera emerging the top try scorer on 42 tries.

The 38-year-old who led the national team to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India where they bowed out in the quarter-finals after losing 27-5 to Australia becomes the ninth tactician to take over the job.

Kenya Sevens coaches 1996-2014.

1996-1997; Ham Onsando

1998-2000; Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno

2000-2005; Bill Githinji

2005-2006 – Gordon Anampiu

2006-2011; Benjamin Ayimba

2011-2012- Mitch Ocholla

2012-2013- Mike Friday

2013-2014; Paul Treu

2014-2015; Felix Ochieng