Hungry Kenya Simbas fail to hunt as a pack

Action between Kenya Simbas and USA in the RWC 2023 final qualifying tournament, in Dubai. [World Rugby]

It was a poor international rugby show for Kenya after the national men’s rugby Sevens and 15s sides were reduced to laughing stocks in Hong Kong and Dubai assignments respectively.

Kenya Sevens lost all their six matches at the 2022-2023 World Rugby Sevens Series season opening first leg at Hong Kong Sevens while United States of America in the 2023 World Cup Repechage hammered Kenya Simbas in a one-sided affair.

In Dubai, Simbas, who were bullish of a positive start in race for final ticket to the global games set for France next year, lost 68-114 to the Americans.

Hooker Dylan Fawsitt and winger Christian Dyer both scored hat-tricks as the USA won their first-ever meeting with Kenya.

Indiscipline cases, poor ball handling skills, poor kick off and set pieces saw the 19th ranked US side blister Simbas, who are ranked 33, into pieces.

It was the same story for Shujaa in Hong Kong where the same underlining issues cost Kenya dearly.

Shujaa only managed to squeeze a point from the Hong Kong Sevens leg when they lost to New Zealand 43-0 in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals before shockingly going down to Uruguay 10-7 in the semi-final for the 13th place yesterday.

Shujaa begun the season with a 28-12 loss to Ireland before going down (26-7) to Argentina and Canada (19-14), which saw them drop to the Challenge Trophy quarterfinal.

Kenya will now finish last in the event alongside hosts Hong Kong, a result that doesn't sit well with most rugby faithful.

A while back, some stakeholders called for the Kenya Rugby Union to put their trust on local tacticians to manage the national teams after the success of the same in the local leagues.

Curtis Olago led KCB to five consecutive Kenya Cup titles. Well, Shujaa and Simbas will put Kenyans at the cross roads because despite Shujaa being led by an international coach and Simbas led by a local coach, the results are the same despite the technical difference in the Sevens and 15s games.

It seems the problem is not who coaches the national teams, but systems and structures of Kenya’s rugby.

Currently, Kenya is depending on secondary school games for talent search. This is a source that has been dry for the last two years due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya also needs to start playing more test matches with other top ranked teams.

Meanwhile, USA lead the Final Qualification Tournament table on point’s difference from Portugal after both teams picked up bonus-point wins in the first round of matches at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

USA has played in all rugby World Cup except one, in South Africa in 1995, and the current crop of Eagles showed their determination not to miss out again with a 68-14 win over Kenya.

Portugal defeated a determined Hong Kong side 42-14. Winners will join Pool C.

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