Kenya Shujaa face baptism of fire in London Sevens

Damian McGrath

New Kenya Sevens head coach Damian McGrath poses after his unveiling on May 14, 2022 at RFUEA ground.


Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • London Sevens was played last in 2019 where Kenya settled last with Fiji winning the championship.
  • Fiji, who are fresh from clinching the Toulouse title after beating Ireland in the Cup final 29-19, highlight Pool “A” that also has the United States, Spain and Wales.

Kenya Sevens face an uphill task at London Sevens when they take on three of the teams currently in the top-four of the 2021/2022 World Rugby Sevens Series on Saturday.

Shujaa will play on song Ireland at 12.16pm in their Pool “B” opening match before confronting series leaders Argentina at 3pm. They will then take on the series defending champions South Africa at 6.08pm.

Argentina top the series with 118 points, having won in Vancouver, Canada besides finishing second in Malaga, Spain . They settled third at Dubai I, Dubai II and Seville, Spain.

South Africa, winners of four consecutive legs of Dubai I, Dubai II, Malaga and Seville, are currently second with 116 points followed by Australia with 110 and Ireland 88.

After finishing last in the previous leg of Toulouse, in France, Kenya Sevens dropped two places to 12th with 38 points.

With World Rugby having come up with the new ranking system, Kenya Sevens really need to dip in and post good results in the last two legs of London Sevens this weekend and Los Angeles Sevens on August 27 to 28.

Taking into account the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, which affected some teams’ ability to participate in some rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series 2021/2022, World Rugby came up with a unique ranking points system that will be applied in the interests of fairness.

World Rugby said in a statement on its website that it will pick the best seven out of the nine tournament results to count towards the Series ranking for each team.

Shujaa has met all their pool opponents in London this season but their encounters ended in defeats.  

They met Ireland for the first time in the playoff for seventh place at Dubai Sevens I and the Irishmen won 29-7. Shujaa had taken on South African in the pool stage of Dubai Sevens I but also lost 22-7.

Shujaa faced off with South Africa in the main Cup quarterfinals at Dubai II where the Blitzbokke won 21-19. The continental rivals met again at Singapore Sevens pool stage where Blitzbokke triumphed again 26-5.

Shujaa’s last meeting with Ireland was at Vancouver Sevens where they met in the quarterfinals for ninth place. Ireland carried the day 21-14.

Vancouver Sevens held April 16-17 marked the last outing for head coach Innocent Simiyu with Kenya Sevens team as Briton Damian McGrath took charge from May 12.

London Sevens was played last in 2019 where Kenya settled last with Fiji winning the championship.

Fiji, who are fresh from clinching the Toulouse title after beating Ireland in the Cup final 29-19, highlight Pool “A” that also has the United States, Spain and Wales.

France, who finished third in Toulouse, Australia, New Zealand and Canada make Pool “C” while Pool “D” has Samoa, England, Scotland and Japan.

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