What you need to know:
- The list of coaches who applied for the job of Kenya Sevens head coach included nationals from Kenya, South Africa, Australia and the UK.
- With the country anticipating resumption of sports anytime from August 24 when the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed will launch protocols, the new coach could be known sooner rather than later.
The race to replace New Zealander Paul Feeney as Kenya Sevens head coach is now down to four from 15 candidates who applied for the position in July.
Multiple sources have told Nation Sport that interviews kicked off as planned on August 21. There is however scanty information on when the interviews will be concluded and new coach unveiled. It's also not clear on whether those still in the race are all Kenyans or foreign coaches.
When contacted, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Secretary General Ian Mugambi confirmed that four coaches are on the interview list, but gave no names.
"We had 15 applicants. We are left with four after shortlisting," said Mugambi, via telephone after a long meeting held by KRU from Friday evening up to around 3.00am on Saturday.
Once the interviews are done by the panel constituted for that purpose, he said, the name of the successful candidate will be forwarded to the KRU Board.
"The Board will deliberate on it before the big announcement is made," he explained.
The seat fell vacant when Feeney left by mutual consent on June 12 to join his family back in New Zealand after the coronavirus pandemic threw the Kenya Sevens' program into uncertainty.
Sporting activities have not been going on in the country since the government banned social gatherings on March 16, just a few days after Kenya confirmed it's first coronavirus case.
Under Feeney, who took over the reins at Shujaa in September 2019 from Paul Murunga, Kenya Sevens qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games now set for 2021 after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Feeney had a mixed bag of results in the 2019-2020 World Rugby Sevens Series where Shujaa reached Cup quarterfinals in Cape Town, South Africa and Hamilton, New Zealand, but disappointed in Dubai (UAE), Sydney (Australia), Los Angeles (USA) and Vancouver (Canada).
Kenya finished the season 12th out of 15 core teams that took part after World Rugby cancelled the last four tournaments in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The list of coaches who applied for the job of Kenya Sevens head coach included nationals from Kenya, South Africa, Australia and the UK.
With the country anticipating resumption of sports anytime from August 24 when the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed will launch protocols, the new coach could be known sooner rather than later.
The job of Kenya Sevens head coach was advertised in early June where KRU encouraged only Kenyans to apply. The union said it was looking for a Kenyan with a minimum of three years experience as a head coach in a division one club or Elite Squad and a minimum World Rugby Level 2 coaching certification in either seven-a-side or fifteen-a-side rugby.
Only three Kenyans applied and the position was re-advertised on June 30 and left open to interested coaches worldwide. By deadline day (July 10), 15 coaches had submitted their applications to the Chief Executive Officer for consideration.
Feeney was not the first foreign coach that Kenya has had in recent years.
Mike Friday, who is currently handling USA Sevens in the same capacity, had resigned from his Shujaa post after the 2013 World Cup Sevens due to "interference from certain Kenya Rugby Union individuals and insufficient funding".
With a fifth-place finish in the 2012/13 World Rugby Sevens Series, Friday remains the only coach to have ever guided Kenya to that historic position.
His successor, South African Paul Treu left in December 2014 citing "unfavourable working conditions within the KRU board."
Since Treu left, KRU has hired and fired many local coaches - Felix Ochieng, Benjamin Ayimba, Innocent Simiyu and Paul Murunga - before Feeney arrived.
Ayimba, who guided Kenya to win a leg in the World Rugby Sevens Series for the first time ever, during the 2016 Singapore Sevens, has since joined Kenya Rugby League Federation as Technical Director.