Kenya Rugby National Teams’ coaches are now focusing on the physical fitness of the players following the cancellation of the 2020 Rugby Africa fixtures.
“We are now concentrating on matters that we as the technical team can manage. We are focusing on the mental and physical fitness of our fifteens players during this period so that the players remain strong in both areas. When we resume contact training, we will then gauge what progress we can make with the team.
The confirmation by Rugby Africa was not entirely unexpected based on the ongoing covid19 period. For our current Under20 team, it means that they will not get the opportunity to compete as a team in what would have been this year’s Barthes Cup since several players will be above 20 years old. Outstanding players like Ian Njenga, John Okoth, Samuel Were, and Dominic Coulson will not be seen again in the Under 20 level. For The Simbas, the lack of competition is that they will not be facing Namibia, for a second consecutive year, who are the team to beat if we are to qualify for the Rugby World Cup in France 2023. It’s always important to potentially have opportunities where we play Namibia on a regular basis to see how we fair against the second-best 15s team in Africa.” said Paul Odera, the 15s Head Coach.
Felix Oloo, Kenya Lionesses Head Coach echoed Odera’s comments on the players’ fitness.
“The cancellation means we go back to the drawing board on certain things that we had planned to work on for this season. We shall however retain the current players in both 7s and 15s because they’re already conversant with the way we plan on executing our plays. I have faith in the team we have and we will continue monitoring them until sporting activities resume. We also look at this from the positive angle, in that, the players who had picked up injuries early in the year have time to recover fully.”
Shujaa’s Coach Kevin Mwema added the following,
“The cancellation of fixtures is definitely a big blow to teams that use the fixtures to expose their National squads to competitive rugby and to gauge performance, especially teams that only get to participate in Rugby Africa Cup (15s) and the Africa7s.
That being said it’s more of a safety precaution against the prevailing covid19 pandemic and its understandable why Rugby Africa came to this decision. At the moment we have to think outside the box with our players. Personalized training plans for the boys with the S&C Coach also being careful not to burn them out while ensuring they remain active.
Sharing clips of the tournaments we have competed in has also been helpful. In addition to the World Rugby online courses that they have done, creating test scenarios and sharing with the boys to come up with solutions will go a long way in testing their rugby IQ and improve their game understanding which in turn helps them make better decisions.”