Kenya 7s players celebrate after winning Africa Men's 7s. Photo Courtesy/Rugby Afrique

Kenya 7s Year in review


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Kenya 7s picked 48 points from 10 World 7s Series outings they took part in during the year 2019.

The highest point tally in the calendar year was in Cape Town where Kenya picked 11 points. The lowest was in Sydney, Vancouver and London- Kenya got just a point in three tournaments. The most number of tries in a single tournament (16) came in Singapore while the least (8) were during Hong Kong 7s.

The year started with Paul Murunga as the head coach and ended with Paul Feeney in charge. Murunga was in charge of eight legs where he guided Kenya to pick 33 points while Feeney managed 15 points in two outings.

With the senior player’s having boycotted the team protesting slashing of salaries due to financial constraints at the Union, Murunga was forced to go to New Zealand and Australia with eight players who playing the series for the first season.

In Hamilton, the 7s side picked seven points after falling to South Africa and  Scotland at the pool stage. Kenya then edged France but dropped to the Challenge Trophy and on the final day, they beat Tonga and Argentina to qualify for the Challenge Trophy finals. A 36-7 defeat to England in the Challenge Trophy saw them finish 10. They had 15 tries in the tournament and seven conversions for 89 points. Jacob Ojee was the top points/try scorer.

Kenya 7s players celebrate. Photo Courtesy/World Rugby

Kenya then registered a drop at the Sydney 7s picking a point. Shujaa suffered heavy defeats to USA (41-0) and France (40-17)  in the tournament which they managed only 10 tries. Vincent Onyala was the top try scorer/points with four tries.   Murunga coached side then collected five points in Las Vegas after falling at the Challenge Trophy semifinals to Spain. They bagged wins against Argentina and Japan in the tournament. Onyala once again finished as the top scorer with four tries.

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Vancouver 7s saw the side that had caused ripples in the 2017/18 season and even appeared in the final twice leave with just a point. Kenya left the tournament without a win following defeats to Samoa, Canada, Fiji, Australia and Japan. Daniel Taabu was the top scorer with four tries in the tournament.

Kenya Rugby Union would announce reaching an agreement with senior players prior to Hong Kong 7s but only Andrew Amonde, Eden Agero, Nelson Oyoo, Dan Sikuta, Jeff Olouch and Augustine Lugonzo joined the Squad. Expectations from the fans were high but Kenya missed the quarters after losses to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.  Kenya would beat Canada in the Challenge Trophy semis but could not go past Japan in the semis and ended up with five points. Olouch was the top scorer with three tries.

Kenya 7s squad in Dubai. Photo Courtesy/APO

They would register a drop week later picking three points in Singapore. Kenya beat Wales 19-14 but earlier losses to USA and England had already relegated them to the Challenge Trophy. A  24-14 loss to France saw  Kenya drop to the 13th place playoff where beat Japan and Spain to finish 13th. It was Taabu who finished as the top scorer with seven tries.

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After this tournament, Kenya were staring at relegation the woes would deepen after picking just point in London. After a loss 24-17 to Fiji, Kenya rose to pick a 21-20 win against Samoa but failed to qualify for the quarters following a 31-17. More losses to Scotland and Japan left Kenya’s survival dream hanging in balance.

Shujaa avoided the chop after collecting 10 points in Paris, it was the first quarterfinal appearance of the season. They made the quarters after a 19-19 draw with Australia, a 29-12 loss to South Africa and 26-21 win over Wales.  Day two losses to USA and France did not matter, Kenya 7s  were already safe. That was Murunga’s last assignment with Kenya 7s.

After months of speculations that Pau would not continue serving as Kenya 7s Head Coach, Kenya Rugby Union announced  Paul Feeney as Kenya 7s boss on September 20, 2019 and he would also serve as Kenya Rugby Technical Director. His first assignment in charge was the Safari 7s where the senior side fell at the semis as Kenya Morans beat South Africa19-14 to win the Safari 7s title becoming the first Kenyan side to win it since 2016.

The New Zealander also led Shujaa to reclaim the Africa Men’s Title which they had last won in 2015 beating Uganda 31-0 in the final. The win saw Kenya book a ticket to the Olympics.  The 2005 World Cup winner with Fiji led Kenya to a 13th place finish in the opening leg of the 2019/20 season. In the outing, they picked a 17-12 loss to South Africa, a 12-5 defeat to England and 22-19 fall to Spain saw the miss the quarters. A 26-14 win against Scotland earned the side four points from the tournament.

Kenya ended the year on a high staying unbeaten in the group stage in Cape Town after wins over Samoa, Australia and a draw against Ireland. They fell to South Africa at the quarters after a 17-5 loss and ended the tournament seventh with 11 points. Despite the loss, Kenya Rugby fans are optimistic that team will perform better in 2020.

Read More about Kenya 7s here 

2019 Trophies: Africa Mens 7s, Safari 7s

Top Scorer Vincent Onyala

Unbeaten in Africa Men 7s (6/6 wins)

 

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