13 teams confirm 2018 Safari 7s participation

Cyprian Kuto shows a clean pair of heels to a Rwanda opponent during the Safari Sevens tournament at the Kasarani Stadium on September 24, 2016. PHOTO/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22 – After a one-year absence, the prestigious Safari 7s tournament returns with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) announcing that 13 teams out of 16 have confirmed participation for the event scheduled for November 9-11 at the RFUEA Grounds.

Making the announcement during the launch on Wednesday, KRU acting CEO Sylvia Kamau said Safari 7s will return to RFUEA Grounds, Ngong road after Seven years where Kasarani and Nyayo Stadium hosted events.

Among teams invited and confirmed participation for this year’s edition are Samurai, Emerging Boks from South Africa, University of Johannesburg, Spain, Uganda, Portugal, Namibia and Wales, Ireland, Apachi 7s, Blue Bulls and Golden Lions.

“The Safari Sevens returns to its spiritual home after an eight year hiatus that saw the tournament played at the Nyayo and Kasarani Stadiums in the intervening years from 2011 to 2016. The return of the tournament to the RFUEA Ground is one that is bound to trigger nostalgia, an electric atmosphere both on and off the pitch, something to look forward to,” she announced.

“Already, invites have been sent out to a host of international teams including the USA, Portugal, Namibia, Ireland, Wales, Emerging Boks, Spain, Uganda, Blue Bulls, Apache Sevens, Samurai, University of Johannesburg and Western Province as the Safari Sevens Organizing Committee (SSOC)  seeks to put together a quality line up of teams for the event,” she added.

“We are working with a minimum budget of Sh30 million but as of now we don’t have a main sponsor; the organizing committee is working on that, working to fundraise for the tournament and they have had meeting now and then.”

Teams participating at the tournament including hosts Shujaa, who are the defending champions will use the competition as a platform for preparations ahead of the 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series which will kick off in Dubai 7s on December 30-1.

In 2017, the tournament was cancelled by KRU as the tournament was in between electioneering period.

After 2013’s edition that was hosted at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani, the tournament recorded low numbers in 2015 and 2016 leading to KRU to rethink about it and therefore the decision to return to RFUEA.

Kenya 7s are the Safari 7s defending champions after beating Samurai 38-21.

ALEX ISABOKE :@alexisaboke is the Sports Editor at Capital FM. He has over 10 years of journalism experience in electronic and print media. Find him on the pitch, track, court, course, pool...