D KRU Images: Damian McGrath
Relegation threatened Kenya 7s bank on LA redemption
By Eric Njiru | Thu 02 Jun, 2022 16:00

Kenya Sevens head coach Damian McGrath is optimistic Shujaa will not be relegated from the HSBC World Sevens Series at the end of the current season.

Shujaa sits 13th on 34 points with one leg to go- Las Vegas 7s- with Canada, Wales, and Japan occupying the 14th, 15th, and 16th positions in the overall standings having played eight legs. 

According to World Rugby, two men’s teams and one women’s will be relegated from the 2022 Series, to ensure a pathway for teams to be promoted from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challengers Series.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Kenya Simbas team naming on Thursday in Nairobi, McGrath told Raga House:

"We are confident we will be there next season. We are fighting relegation but I'm confident the last leg in Los Angeles will turn things around by that time. It's a tough schedule in the next 12 months there are no windows to get the fitness level so we have to hit the ground running. As I said there will be a quick fix and I'm confident we'll turn things around."

McGrath was appointed the Kenya 7s head coach just before the Paris 7s to take over from Innocent 'Namcos' Simiyu. He's been in charge of the team for only two legs- Paris and London 7s- and admits it was an interesting two weeks and an eye-opener.

"It was an interesting two weeks. It opened my eyes to a few things; off-field discipline-wise things that we could improve, As a staff we discussed a few things we felt could change the players. On the field, as I mentioned before we left the things that let us down e.g skill level. I said to the players losing because of your own mistakes should be a stab in the heart. Against Ireland and South Africa in London we beat ourselves in games we should have won."

Read Also: Australia win London 7s

In France, Kenya lost 29-5 to Fiji, 38-14 to France in pool matches, and beat Wales 14-19 in the last pool game. Shujaa however lost the challenge quarterfinal 14-26 to Scotland and 28-12 to Japan in the 13th place semifinals to finish 15th.

London was more of the same case a week later losing 17-14 to Ireland, 26-0 to Australia, and 24-21 to South Africa in pool matches before going down  31-0 to France and 14-5 to Japan on day II to finish bottom. 

"Fitness-wise I've just met with Geoffrey Kimani this morning and talked about the level we need to reach and the type of finish we need and he's very much on the same page. I know everybody would like it to be an immediate change back to the winning ways we are confident within a few weeks we can make it better."

In LA, Kenya 7s will play Samoa, England and Scotland in pool D with relegation rivals Wales in pool C with Fiji, Ireland and France while Japan are in pool A with Australia, Spain and Argentina. Canada joins USA, South Africa and New Zealand in pool B.  

"What I found was that in between the issues we scored some great tries and there were a few glimpses of what I expected from Kenya eg aggression and defense. All the ingredients are there it's just working well to get the right result out of it."

Eric Njiru
Email: ericnjiru41@gmail.com +254726205521
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