KENYA Rugby Sevens team returns to the Africa men’s Sevens rugby tournament hopeful of victory after skipping the event two years ago.
This year’s tournament will be held in Monastir, Tunisia, from October 13-14, with Kenya using it as part of its preparations for the World Series, which starts in Dubai in December.
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Chairman Richard Omwela believes the country has the best team at the moment, alongside South Africa, and is expected to dwarf their opponents in Tunisia where 12 teams will battle for continental bragging rights.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, Namibia won the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, securing its place at the World Rugby Cup 2019 in Japan,” said Abdelaziz Bougja, President of Rugby Africa. “This month will see the start of the African regional Rugby 7s tournaments which double as pre-qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.”
The 12 teams competing are Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Zambia, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius and Namibia.
“These global showcase events give further exposure to our game and allow global audiences to learn more about what Africa has to offer,” said Bougja.
The women’s tournament was held in May in Gaborone, Botswana where teams from South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the host Botswana, participated. Kenya beat Uganda in the finals to be crowned champions.
Bougja said rugby is developing at an unprecedented pace in Africa according to the popularity of the sport in the continent and will soon be a force to reckon with on the global scene as more people take up the sport.
According to Rugby Africa, in 2017, growth in player registration in the continent, excluding power house South Africa, was 66 percent, against an overall global increase of 27 percent.
In the female game, the number of registered players has increased by half in the last year alone. This phenomenal growth at grass roots level is starting to bear fruit on the international scene.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont has acknowledged that rugby has experienced tremendous growth across Africa in recent years.
“There has never been a more exciting time for rugby in Africa,” he said recently. “Ten African nations are currently placed in the top-50 of the world rankings and more women and men, girls and boys, are playing than ever before. The players are inspirational role models for the next generations of young Africans who are discovering the sport.” – Xinhua