NAIROBI, Kenya, June 29 –The national sevens men’s team has been drawn in a tough Pool of the Rio Olympic Games where the shorter version of the game will be making its debut.
Kenya Sevens, who are seeded ninth, will face power house New Zealand, Great Britain and Japan in Group C when the men’s competition will be held from August 9-11 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Their women counterparts, Kenya Lionesses were also pooled in a difficult group B alongside New Zealand, France and Spain in the competition scheduled for August 6-8.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Kenya Sevens head coach Benjamin Ayimba said they will be out to give their best with their aim being to get out of the group stages.
“It’s a tough pool but we are also a good side. We will be facing teams that we have played before in the World Series so we will give it our best and continue raising our country’s flag high as we have always done,” Ayimba said.
“Oscar Ouma is recovering well and we hope he will be fully fit for the Olympics which a dream for every player,” the coach added.
Kenya will be motivated by the fact that they have beaten New Zealand once in the 2015/16 Rugby Sevens World Series as they train to get one over Great Britain that will be composed of England, Scotland and Wales.
Japan will not be pushovers either as they beat Kenya 19-14 at the Las Vegas tournament where Shujaa, the Singapore 7s champions bowed out at the Plate semi-final.
The Lionesses, who finished second at the Roma 7s, will be hoping the experience picked in the tournament alongside the Paris 7s where they debuted in the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Series, will inspire them past the preliminary round.
Assistant coach Kevin Wambua told Capital Sport they anticipate a tough challenge in the group where they will be seeking to upset the bigwigs.
“There is no easy team in the Olympics so it’s up to us to bring our A game. It’s only New Zealand that we have not played against but the rest we have met before. We have faced Spain before where we did well in the first half. We also met a development France side in Paris so we will work on our weakness and I believe we will be ready for the Olympics,” Wambua said.
Both the Kenya Sevens and Lionesses are set for a month-long high altitude training camp in Nandi Hills facilitated by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya.
The announcement of the Pools was made on Tuesday night in the host city following last Sunday’s women’s global repechage tournament which delivered the final qualifier for what will be the first time in 92 years that rugby has featured on sport’s biggest stage.
In both competitions, the top two teams from each pool, plus the two best third-placed sides, progress to the quarter-finals.
Speaking at the draw, World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Today’s announcement represents another exciting milestone on rugby sevens’ road to Rio 2016. Confirmation of the pools brings the competition to life and adds further injection of excitement for teams and fans.”
“We were determined to return rugby to the Olympic Games because we knew inclusion would be game-changing for our sport. We knew it would open the door to reach and inspire new participants and fans worldwide and enable our top men’s and women’s players to realize their dreams of becoming Olympians, competing alongside the greatest athletes in the world.”
Men’s – August 9-11 (seeding in brackets)
Pool A: Fiji (one), USA (six), Argentina (seven), Brazil (12)
Pool B: South Africa (two), Australia (five), France (eight), Spain (11)
Pool C: New Zealand (three), Great Britain (four), Kenya (nine), Japan (10)
Women’s – August 6-8 (seeding in brackets)
Pool A: Australia (one), USA (six), Fiji (seven), Colombia (12)
Pool B: New Zealand (two), France (five), Spain (eight), Kenya (11)
Pool C: Canada (three), Great Britain (four), Brazil (nine), Japan (10)