Kenya National Rugby Sevens team have failed to go through to the quarterfinals for the fourth time in a row after dropping to the Challenge Trophy at the sixth leg of the World Sevens Rugby leg, Vancouver Sevens in Canada.
Shujaa as they are popularly known failed to replicate their 2016 glittering show when they also dropped to Challenge Trophy last weekend at the Singapore Sevens, where they historically lifted the title five years ago under the late tactician Benjamin Ayimba.
Innocent Simiyu’s charges collected one point in Malaga, eight points in Seville and five in Singapore last weekend.
According to the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Director in charge of Youth Development Mwalimu Kikechi Kombo, all is not lost as coach Innocent Simiyu is working on a team that will perform well in the future.
Speaking to KBC Digital Sports on phone from the city of British Columbia, he said “The coach is currently rotating his squad in line with getting to know what’s best for him in the future assignments. As you all know a few experienced players like Andrew Amonde, Collins Injera among others retired but we got an amazing pool of talents coming up so all them have to be tried. As for Vancouver it might not have been good outing due to some players like Alvin Otieno who remained home due to World Cup qualification set for Kampala next weekend”.
Last year after the conclusion of Tokyo Olympics where Kenya was eliminated at the group stage to finish ninth at the summer games, Head Coach Simiyu said there is need for a national conversation in establishing the system of play for Shujaa.
“Between the last Olympics in Rio and what happened in Japan we have had like four coaches.We need to sit down as a fraternity and discuss what would be the best playing style for Kenya and also look for the players who would fit into that pattern or develop the existing crop of players to match the established system,” he told KBC’s Sports Check.
After an inspiring 19-17 win against United States of America in their Pool “A” opening duel, Kenya Sevens went down to Fiji 38-7 before losing to England 19-12 in Canada.
Kenya has had a star studded squad comprising of captain Amonde (prop), Humphrey Kayange (prop) ,Oscar Ayodi (hooker), Injera (winger), Sammy Oliech (flyhalf), Augustine Lugonzo (scrum half)) and Willy Ambaka (centre).
Kayange was last year feted with the highest honour in the sports of rugby having been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame for his special achievement and contribution to Rugby.
After making their maiden appearance in the World Sevens Series in Dubai in 1999, Kenya became a core member of the IRB Sevens circuit in 2004.
The Shujaa team went through a steep learning curve on the international scene despite boasting of stars in Oscar Osir, Edward Rombo, Dennis Mwanja, Ted Omondi and Benjamin Ayimba.