Kenya Airways rallies behind Sevens team

By francis marangu
Mar 13, 2014
  • Kenya Airways CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni tries his hands on rugby with the team captain Andrew Amonde at RFUEA grounds during the team naming session today ahead of the 6th and 7th leg of HSBC series in

Sponsors Kenya Airways have full confidence with the national sevens rugby team despite the recent run of poor results, CEO Titus Naikuni has assured.

There has been uproar from fans after the team failed to sparkle in the opening legs of the 2013/14 HSBC World Series.

The team set its performance bar high after finishing fifth overall last season pushing up fans’ expectations. Kenya is currently positioned eighth on the log with 47 points.

A change in the management has seen a change in fortunes with Kenya yet to reach a cup semifinal in the five legs played so far. However, Naikuni took a more diplomatic approach saying their investment in the team has fully paid back. Naikuni, who spoke Thursday during the naming of the 12-man team to the Hong Kong and Tokyo legs, said patience was critical in ensuring the new management delivers.

“We are extremely confident with this team. Kenyans always look at the negatives forgetting the positives and that is not always good,” he said.

“Things might be bad today but that does not mean it will be the same tomorrow. Let us give the boys their time.”

The team that leaves on Monday remains unchanged with only Kenya Harlequin backrow Maxwell Theuri making the cut as a new player.

Captain Andrew Amonde makes a return from injury. Theuri, 22, who never played rugby in high school, attributed his surprise call up to hard work.

“This is my fourth year in rugby and only hard work has earned my place in the team. I have been doing my best in training."

Head coach Paul Treu said Theuri is well prepared for the challenge ahead. “Max has already been warned that he will not get enough playing time and it would be strange if he even gets thirty seconds in Tokyo.

He didn't do much during our training camp in South Africa but he merits to be in the team.”

Treu said his ultimate target remains qualification to the 2016 olympic games which is only achievable through exposing new players.

Tough round for Kenya, Treu 

Reflecting on Kenya’s opponents in Tokyo, Treu admitted that it will be another tough round for his boys with prospects of meeting a top team in the quarterfinals. Kenya is in Pool B alongside South Africa, Argentina and Japan.

“It is not always good playing against those big teams at that stage but its a challenge we are prepared for. Everybody is hoping for progression since we have not made it past the quarters,” he said.

Amonde expressed confidence that the team has matured and will find its right footing in the two legs.

“Our preparations this time have been better over any other time. We know very well that the position we occupy is not our best and we promise to pick up in Tokyo and Hong Kong.”

Kenya Rugby Union chairman Mwangi Muthee concurred with the sentiments saying; “looking at this team, it is a blend of young and experienced players. With discipline and self determination, they have the opportunity to shine.”

Tokyo Sevens take place on March 22-23 with the Hong Kong leg going down on the weekend of March 28-30.

Full squad: Andrew Amonde (KCB, Captain), Horace Otieno (Mwamba RFC), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru RFC), Patrice Agunda (Kenya Harlequin), Daniel Sikuta, Dennis Ombachi (Mwamba RFC), Billy Odhiambo (Strathmore University), Biko Adema (Nondescript RFC), Maxwell Theuri (Kenya Harlequin), Michael Agevi, Collins Injera (Mwamba RFC), Oscar Ayodi (Homeboyz RFC); Management: Paul Treu (Head Coach), Felix Ochieng (Assistant Coach), Vuyo Zangqa (Assistant Coach), Graham Bentz (Conditioning Coach), Lamech Bogonko ( Physiotherapist), Steve Sewe (Team Manager).