Kenya's dream of a winning the first match moves to Vancouver

By eric odanga
Mar 04, 2021
  • Kenya has been drawn in a tough pool B with Samoa, Fiji and Canada in the Vancouver Sevens, the sixth tournament of the World Series. (Courtesy World Rugby)

Kenya’s dreams of winning their first match in the World Rugby Sevens World Series moves to Vancouver, Canada.

They have been drawn in a tough Pool B with Samoa, Fiji and hosts Canada but coach Paul Murunga and his assistant Kevin Wambua are optimistic.

The players have been learning fast and are equally confident as they play with a new fighting spirit.

Before the weekend matches in Vancouver, it is important to look at Kenya’s record in the USA where their performance has been punctuated by highs and lows since 2004.

This year was one of the lows after a revolt by the older and more experienced players saw Murunga and Wambua navigate their way from a tough Pool C before being knocked out in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals by Spain.

Historically, New Zealand, the form team on the opening day of the tournament at the Sam Boyd Stadium have been ended Kenya’s surge for glory. A good spell for Kenya began in 2008 but, New Zealand beat Kenya in the Cup semis.

In the following year, New Zealand again defeated Kenya in the then Plate semi-finals before denying them a podium finish in 2010 by ejecting the East Africans in the Cup semis.

Good spell

Kenya’s good spell at the USA Sevens took a nosedive after a Plate final loss to Samoa in 2011

In 2012, Kenya won the Plate but, it was not until 2016 that Kenya reached the Plate semis again. This time, they were beaten by Japan.

Last year, Kenya finished sixth after losing to Australia in the fifth and sixth position play off. But, Murunga is optimistic as Kenya flies out to Vancouver for the sixth tournament next weekend after two teams in Kenya’s Pool in Las Vegas reached the final. USA retained the title after beating Samoa in the final.

His parting shot after a loss to Spain was that the players are upbeat and know their potential.

“I am not disappointed and there are good times to come,” he stated. His sentiments are shared by the players whose self belief grows in every tournament.

Perhaps, the quiet signals being sent by the players have also endeared them to the rugby fraternity who have resolved to support the team through the transition.

Most of the fans at the Sam Boyd Stadium steered from the politics and threw their weight behind the team with words of advice and encouragement.

Some of the fans are willing to be patient with the team. “We shall support the team,” they said.

Results 

Cup quarter finals: New Zealand 19 Fiji 14, South Africa 10 USA 29, Australia 20 Samoa 21, Argentina 26 England 21; Semi-finals: New Zealand 19 USA 24, Samoa 33 Argentina 19; Final: USA 27 Samoa 0.

Play-off: New Zealand 26 Argentina 19.

Fifth and sixth place play off: Fiji 14 South Africa 12; Australia 14 England 33; Final: Fiji 15  England 19.

Challenge Trophy quarter finals: Spain 19 Wales 7, Japan 15  Kenya 28, Scotland 21 Canada 19, France 12 Chile 17; Semi Finals: Spain 24 Kenya 7; Scotland 17 Chile 5; Final: Spain 14 Scotland 15.

13th place semi-finals: Wales 31 Japan 14, Canada 28 France 12; Final: Wales 0 Canada 7.

Pool Results

Pool A: New Zealand, Spain Canada, Samoa.

Spain 12 Canada 12, New Zealand 33 Samoa 0, Spain 21 Samoa 26, New Zealand 33 Canada 19, Canada 19 Samoa 26, New Zealand 19 Spain 7.

Pool B: USA, France, Argentina, Kenya.

France 15 Argentina 17, USA 26 Kenya 10, France 31 Kenya 7, USA 24 Argentina 26,

Pool C: England, South Africa, Japan, Chile.

South Africa 24 Japan 0, England 17 Chile 0, South Africa 5 Chile 5, England 31 Japan 12, Japan 19 Chile 7, England 12 South Africa 27.

Pool D: Fiji, Australia, Wales, Scotland.

Australia 28 Wales 0, Fiji 36 Scotland 12, Australia 24 Scotland 12, Fiji 33 Wales 14, Wales 14 Scotland 19, Fiji 15 Australia 26, Argentina 19 Kenya 24, USA 19 France 10.