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Kenyan rugby star Injera makes history at Sevens World Cup

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Past records will mean nothing to Sevens rugby star Collins Injera as he writes new history when he becomes the first Kenyan to play in three consecutive Sevens World Cup tournaments.

Speaking before leaving for San Francisco on Monday, Injera said he is only focused on helping Kenya claim their maiden World Cup title after two failed attempts in 2009 and 2013.

The Kenyan top try scorer has 272 tries in the World Rugby Sevens Series and wants to lead from the front as Kenya launches their title campaign against Tonga on Friday.

“Pressure is on me to do well and help Kenya score more tries. It is not about the history I am making, this is about a collective responsibility that we have as a team to work hard and win the tournament. Everyone wants Kenya to win the World Cup and we will just try to do just that,” he said.

A total of 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams are congregating in San Francisco for the three day tournament. New Zealand is the defending champion in both men’s and women’s tournaments.

The 31-year-old Injera will make history when he takes to the field in San Francisco as the first Kenyan player to compete in three World Cups. He featured at the 2009 tournament in Dubai where Kenya reached a historic first ever semifinal under then head coach Benjamin Ayimba. He again played under coach Mike Friday in the squad that reached a second semifinal at the 2013 tournament in Moscow.

Kenya, now coached by Innocent Simiyu, himself a veteran of two World Cups (2005 and 2009) will get their campaign underway with a pre-round clash against Tonga. The winner will qualify for the final 16 where they will face Scotland. South Africa will be waiting in the quarterfinal for whoever goes beyond the first two hurdles.

Fly-half Aden Agero will be one of the four players that survived from the 2013 World Cup in Moscow, though he was never selected four years ago to play in Russia. “For the first time you feel intimidated playing against stronger opponents but when you realize that you have prepared well enough you discover you are just a player like them and then you play your game,” he said. 



Rugby Africa president upbeat continents’ four teams to win Sevens World Cup

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa President Abdelaziz Bougja says the continent has strong teams that can win the Sevens World Cup, which will be held this weekend in San Francisco, USA.

Africa will have four teams out of the 24 that will be battling it out in the competition. New Zealand’s men and women are the defending champions and will be keen to do everything to retain their titles but Bougja says it will be African team that will wrest the crown at the end of the competition on Sunday.

Africa teams in the competition are Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe in the men’s competition while only South Africa will be representing the continent in the women’s cadre.

“They are strong teams in their own right and will fight it out and hopefully, one of the four men’s teams will win the tournament. Kenya and South Africa have dominated the World Series circuit and hopefully that will be shown in the World Cup too,” said Bougja on Monday.

South Africa has been seeded top owing to their good run in the World Series. Kenya will be number nine and will have to play in the preliminary round against Tonga before joining the eight top seeds. Winner of the match will meet Scotland to determine who make it to the quarterfinals.

This will be Kenya’s fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup Sevens appearance and former head coach Benjamin Ayimba said the team has the capacity to make history and win the World Cup for the first time.

“They are a strong team better than any other before. With some luck, they will go all the way to the Main Cup finals,” he said.

Ayimba played at Kenya’s first ever World Cup in 2001 in Argentina and captained the team at their second show at the 2005 event in Hong Kong.

Ayimba later returned as head coach in 2009 and made history as he guided the team to finish third in Dubai in 2009.


Uganda upbeat about 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

KAMPALA (Xinhua) -- Uganda’s national rugby team on Sunday headed out to the United States with their coach promising to upset major teams at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens slated to start on July 20.

Uganda coach Tolbert Onyango told Xinhua in an interview that he has mapped out a strategy for their clash with Samoa in the first game on July 21 at the AT&T Park in San Francisco.

“We have watched Samoa play and played against them before. They are a physical side and we must counter that physicality and make sure our defending is good,” Onyango said.

“Yes we are underdogs going for our first World Cup. But the boys are upbeat and looking forward to go and prove to the world that they are good enough,” he added.

Michael Okorach, the team captain said the team is looking forward to the competition.

“Playing at the World Cup is big and we must go all out to impress,” he said.

In case Uganda defeat Samoa, they will battle England in the round of 16.  Giants South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe will be Africa’s other representatives at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Uganda qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens last year after beating Zimbabwe 22-10 to retain the Africa Sevens Rugby Cup. New Zealand are the reigning World Cup champions.



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