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Kenya 15s rugby eyes more friendly matches
for exposure, qualify for World Cup

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya will need to play in a few build up matches and gain international experience if the country’s 15 rugby side is to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

Kenya 15s head coach Ian Snook has underscored the need for the country to invest in the team saying they can qualify for the World Cup every four years if they engage top sides regularly.

“Kenya needs to play against tough teams all the time so as to get better and better. That should be the next step,” Snook said on Monday.

“We came close in Namibia, but we lost. We still have the chance to secure the last remaining ticket if we win the repechage challenge in Marseille, France in November.”

Since they made their Rugby World Cup debut in 1999, Namibia have played 19 matches and lost all of them - a record they will be looking to put right in Japan next year after securing their place in Pool B alongside defending champions New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the as yet unknown repechage winner.

Four teams are battling it out in the repechage. They are Kenya, Canada, Hong Kong, China and Germany.

Canada finished third in Americas regional qualifier to head to repechage with the United States and Uruguay going through to Japan while Germany lost to Russia in the Europe regional qualifier. Hong Kong, China won Asia cross regional play-off to proceed to repechage.

Hong Kong, China, Canada and Namibia are currently placed 21, 22 and 23 respectively in the World Rugby Ranking while Kenya are 28th.

Kenya have played Germany once, losing 30-29 in Nairobi last year while they have met Hong Kong, China five times, losing on three occasions, with one win and a draw.

Hong Kong, China played Kenya last at the Cup of Nations in December in Hong Kong, winning 40-30 on their way to retaining the trophy. “Kenya need to improve on split second decision making,” said Snook.

Kenya captain Davis Chenge believes his side can turn the tide and secure their maiden show at the big boys table, the World Cup in Japan in 2019.

“We gave our all but unfortunately Namibia were better than us as they capitalized on our mistakes to win the game. We did poorly in our line-outs and easily conceded turnovers in the ruck. We still have one more shot at the World Cup qualification and hopefully we will seize it,” said Chenge.


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