Revolving door that's the Kenya Sevens coach job

Innocent Simiyu

Kenya Sevens coach Innocent Simiyu names his squad for Dubai Sevens tournament on November 19, 2021 at Parklands Sports Club.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Experienced Briton McGrath takes over what is one of the hottest seats in rugby

The high turnover of coaches continued at Kenya Sevens as Briton Damian McGrath took charge as the new head coach.

It now means that the Kenya Sevens job has changed hands 11 times since 2010, that is an average of just over one coach a year.

Simiyu, a former Kenya Sevens and Kenya Simbas skipper, has served twice as Kenya Sevens head coach.

He was appointed for the first time in 2016, replacing the late Benjamin Ayimba.

However, he was fired after serving slightly over one year into his two-year contract with Paul "Pau" Murunga taking charge.

Simiyu made a return in September 2020, replacing Paul Feeney of New Zealand.

Since 2010, Kenya Sevens team has witnessed 11 changes to the head coach position with Ayimba and Simiyu serving twice.

Others who have served are former Kenya international Mitch Ocholla (2011), Englishman Mike Friday (2012), South African Paul Treu (2013) and local man Felix "Totty" Otieno (2015).

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) secretary general, Ian Simiyu said in a statement Wednesday evening that they had parted ways with Simiyu and that McGrath will take over for a period of two years leading to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

After a poor run in the World Rugby Sevens Series and what could be described as a disastrious outing in the Africa Rugby Sevens in Kampala recently the question was more of when Simiyu would lose his job.

In comparison the top sevens teams in the world have exhibited obvious stability.

Gareth Baber has been Fiji Sevens coach since 2016, while the South Africa Sevens coach Neil Powell took over from Paul Treu in 2013. Treu had handled the team from 2004.

Former Kenya coach Mike Friday has been USA Sevens coach since 2014.

Clark Laidlaw took charge of New Zealand Sevens in 2017.

Mugambi further announced that the team's strength and conditioning coaches Mike Shamiah and Anthony Michiri had  also been replaced.

McGrath, who recently handled Germany, has experience spanning 30 years.

He handled Canada Sevens between 2016 to 2019,  famously guiding them to victory in the  Singapore leg of the World Series in 2017.

Before heading to Canada, McGrath was England Sevens deputy coach and handled the team in the 2002 and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Glasgow respectively and the 2005 World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong.

Former Kenya Lionesses Sevens coach Kevin Wambua will deputise McGrath.

The 2016 Singapore Sevens winning strength and conditioning coach Geoffrey Kimani returns in the same capacity to the team.

The changes come in the wake of Kenya Sevens poor performance in the 2021/2022 World Rugby Sevens Series and the just ended Africa Rugby Sevens Cup in Uganda in April.

 Kenya almost failed to qualify for the Sevens World Cup as they struggled to beat Zambia 19-12 in the play-off for third place. They had lost to hosts Uganda in the semi-finals 22-12.

Kenya Sevens is currently placed 10th after seven rounds in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Recent Kenya Sevens coaches:

Benjamin Ayimba (2010)

Mitch Ochola (2011)

Mike Friday (2012)

Paul Treu (2013)

Felix 'Totty' Otieno (2015)

Benjamin Ayimba (2016)

Innocent "Namcos" Simiyu (2016- 2017)

Paul "Pau" Murunga (2018-19)

Paul Feeney (Sep 2019-April 2020)

Innocent "Namcos " Simiyu (Sep 2000- May 2022)

Damian McGrath (May 2022)


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