It's do or die for Kenya ahead of World Rugby Sevens Series promotion playoffs

Kenya Sevens' Nygel Amaitsa in action during the World Rugby Challenger Series.[World Rugby]

Kenya Sevens dreams of returning to the World Rugby Sevens Series currently known as HSBC SVNS Series will be at stake today when Shujaa face off against Samoa and Spain in the promotion and relegation playoffs at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid.

A total of 16 men and women teams are gathered in Spain for the three-day event which will see the HSBC SVNS 2024 champions crowned in a winner-takes-all Grand Final involving the top eight placed men’s and women’s teams from the regular season.

The promotion and relegation play off competition will also see a further eight men’s and women’s teams play to secure their HSBC SVNS status during Sunday's qualifier final matches.  Four men’s and women’s teams will earn tickets to the next season's competition. 

The high-stakes promotion and relegation play-off competition will involve teams ranked ninth to twelfth in SVNS 2024 competing with the top four teams from the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024.

The competition format involves two groups of four teams to decide who plays who in the all-important play off matches on Sunday, with the winners of the resulting four cross-over matches securing their place in HSBC SVNS 2025, while the losing teams will enter the regional qualification pathway for the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2025.

This means that if Kenya qualifies for the semi-finals of the playoff games on this weekend they will be back in the main event next season.

Shujaa were relegated from the series in 2023 after suffering a narrow 12-7 defeat to Canada.

However, a new look Shujaa will be heading to Spain riding high on confidence having finished second in the Challenger Series behind Uruguay.

Kenya will open their campaign on Friday at 6.45pm (EAT) against Samoa before playing hosts Spain at 10.18pm.

If Kenya win the two matches, they will be through to the semifinals and thus returning to the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Paris Olympic Games-bound team will then complete its group matches against Chile on Saturday at 8.18pm. 

Group A will see Uruguay, Germany, United States and Canada clash for the other two spots in the semis.

Speaking ahead of the much-awaited event, Shujaa co-captain Vincent Onyala was optimistic of a good show.

“Hopefully we’ll get there and build on our little moments then see ourselves back in the HSBC SVNS Series.

“It will be big. Our programme will grow. The boys that are coming in will experience what it means to play with the best and we’ll build on from there,” he was quoted by World Rugby website.

Shujaa finished a disappointing fifth place in the final leg of the series played in Munich, Germany the previous weekend. Prior to the Munich outing, Kenya had won gold in Dubai and bronze in Montevideo, Uruguay.

However, Onyala said they still have time to rectify their mistakes and improve their performances ahead of the Madrid showdown.

“We are definitely happy, because we achieved our goal of making it to the playoffs, now we just wait to see what Madrid has for us. Hopefully, we’ll get there and build on our little moments then see ourselves back in the HSBC SVNS Series.

“It will be big. Our programme will grow. The boys that are coming in will experience what it means to play with the best and we’ll build on from there,” said Onyala.

Athletics
Faith leads chase for glory as Olympics squad is unveiled
Athletics
Omanyala, Wanyonyi race to world leads at Nyayo Stadium
By AFP 9 hrs ago
Football
Defending champions Italy recover from disastrous start to win Euro 2024 opener
Rugby
SCHOOLS: Nyakach Girls shine in Kisumu County rugby sevens