Kenya will pitch to host one of the World Rugby Sevens Series legs in 2027 and the 2027 Rugby World Cup Africa Qualifiers in 2026.
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Chairman Sasha Mutai has disclosed that he held a series of meetings with World Rugby top brass concerning the two events on the sidelines of the just concluded Rugby World Cup in France.
“I met World Rugby technical teams among other top officials and we held fruitful discussions concerning the World Rugby Sevens Series,” said Mutai.
However, Mutai said that good infrastructure will be key in their bids to host the two tournaments, adding that the construction of the Talanta Stadium at the Jamhuri Sports Complex and the rugby-only stadium at the Moi International Sports Centre (MISC) will enhance their chances.
Mutai said that Kenya Sevens must also work hard not only to gain promotion back to the World Rugby Sevens Series in the 2024/25 season but also battle to avoid relegation again.
Kenya Sevens were relegated last from the World Rugby Sevens Series last season and will now go through the Challenger Series starting January 2024.
For the first time in 23 years, Kenya Sevens were knocked out of the World Rugby Sevens Series after they lost to Canada 12-7 in the relegation play-off final at the London Sevens in May.
Shujaa were first invited to the Series in 2000 before becoming a core side in 2004 as the team won the 2016 Singapore Sevens title, their first victory ever in the series.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup Africa qualification was played in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence in France, in July last year, a move that didn’t go well with African countries.
They protested the move by Africa Rugby top brass to take the qualifier to France disregarding bids put in by Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Kenya Simbas lost to Namibia 36-0 in the final but proceeded to the Final Qualification tournament in Dubai in November when they went on to lose to Portugal (85-0), United States of America (68-14) and Hong Kong (22-18) respectively.
Besides putting up a football-rugby only 50,000-seater, Talanta Stadium at the Jamhuri Sports Complex, Nairobi, the government overhauled the MISC, Nyayo National Stadium and Kipchoge Keino Stadium, giving the arenas a new look ahead of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.
The government has also allocated KRU land at the MISC for the construction of a rugby-only stadium.
Meanwhile, five changes have been made to the Kenya Simbas squad that will face Uganda Rugby Cranes in Elgon Cup return leg on Saturday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium at Mamboleo, Kisumu City.
Eugene Sifuna returns to start at hooker after missing the tour of Uganda due to academic commitments. He is partnered by Ephraim Oduor at loose head and Hillary Mwanjilwa at tight head.
The duo replaces Wilhite Mususi and Teddy Akala, who featured in the first leg where Kenya Simbas lost 21-20 to Rugby Cranes at the King’s Park Arena, Kampala on Sunday.
According to a statement from KRU, Elekeans Musonye returns at openside flank after starting last Sunday from the bench. Paul Mutsami will operate from inside centre, partnering with Bryceson Adaka in midfield while Derrick Ashiundu returns to the wing, replacing Alfred Orege who will miss out due to an injury.
Also missing out are Emmanuel Otieno, Reinhard Mwalati and Walter Okoth while Andrew Matoka has made a good enough recovery to be included among the replacements. Shem Okola starts from the bench and is in line for his debut.
Jone Kubu and Brian Wahinya swap places in positional changes made to the backline, Kubu starting at flyhalf with Wahinya slotting in at fullback.