Kenya coach Paul Feeney has described Shujaa’s and Morans’ opponents at this weekend’s Safari Sevens as tough and interesting.
Arguably, Morans have landed a tough Pool “A” where they face three-time World Rugby Series champions and tournament favourites South Africa’s Blitzbokke, Uganda and Burundi.
This is the first time South Africa are sending their top side, having been represented by Emerging Boks, who won Safari Sevens in 2006 and 2007 and 2012 winners South Africa Elite Programme Development.
Experienced playmaker Cecil Afrika will lead first seeded Blitzbokke that is bristling with World Rugby Sevens Series experience.
Morans will open day one proceedings at 9.30am on Saturday against Michael Wokorach’s Uganda Cranes before facing Blitzbokke at 12.40pm. They will wrap up against Burundi from 3.10pm.
“Definitely a tough pool but the harder the pool the better since it will give us a good bearing ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifier and World Rugby Series,” said Feeney. “I am looking forward to getting the team playing at a higher level.”
Kenya Shujaa have been pooled in a relatively fair group “C” consisting of Zambia whom they meet at 11.10am, Russia Academy who play them at 2pm. Eight-time champions Shujaa, who won the title last in 2016, will then face Blue Bulls from South Africa at 5.10pm.
“It’s an interesting pool for Shujaa and all teams are reasonably at the same level,” said Feeney.
Defending champions Samurai International, who are seeking their third consecutive Safari Sevens title, highlight Pool B that also has Western Province from South Africa, Waisela Serevi-coached Russia aka Narvskaya Zastava and United Kingdom’s Red Wailers.
Another World Rugby Sevens Series core side Spain will face Zimbabwe, French side Seventise and National Sevens champions Kenya Commercial Bank.
While releasing the draws at the RFUEA ground yesterday, Safari Sevens tournament director Godwin Karuga said they were ready for the tournament that will start proper on Saturday.
Unlike last year when some roads leading to the venue were closed, Karuga said the roads will remain open despite the ongoing constructing along Ngong Road. “I would advise fans not to coma along with their cars because we have a parking challenge with the ongoing road works,” said Karuga.
Karuga was accompanied by Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Oduor Gangla.
He announced a Sh5 million sponsorship from gaming firm Betika. They join title sponsors Kenya Breweries, Bidco, Dusit Hotel, AAR, Dasani, TSG Holdings and Agulu Lounge as partners of the tournament.
Entry fee has been slashed by almost half. Regular advance tickets will go for Sh600 down from Sh1,200 but ticket purchase at the gate will cost Sh1,000 daily.
Advance VIP tickets will cost Sh1,200 down from Sh2,000 but those buying at the gate will part with Sh1,500 down from Sh2,500 last year.
-Report by Ayumba Ayodi/Nation Media Group