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KRU designs shorter Safari Sevens tourney

Kenya Rugby Union has made changes to this year’s edition of the Safari Sevens tournament set for October 3-4 at the Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani.

Tournament director Godwin Karuga announced Tuesday that age-group and veterans tournaments, which usually precede the main tournament, will not be held.

This means the annual four-day festival of rugby will be reduced to a two-day tournament.

“Confirmations by many national teams mean the tournament will be competitive. We urge fans to turn out in numbers,” said Karuga.

This year’s tournament has so far attracted some teams playing in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Tickets for the upper deck section will be sold for Sh500 and those for lower deck Sh1,000. VIP tickets will retail at Sh2,000. Safaricom are the lead sponsors with Sh30 million. KRU need Sh50 million for the tournament.

World Rugby Sevens core sides Argentina and Portugal are among the 14 teams expected for year’s championship.

 

Argentina will make their third appearance this year, having lost to Welsh Warriors 24-17 in the final after winning Bowl in 2010 while Portugal are making their maiden show.

Argentina were the highest ranked side in the 2014/2015 World Rugby Sevens Series among the core sides at position eight with 80 points. Their best show was at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens where they finished fourth.

Portugal missed relegation by one place to finish 14th with 28 points, a place adrift of Kenya that is another World Rugby Sevens core side at Safari Sevens with 46 points.

Also coming for the two-day championships are 2016 Olympics hosts Brazil, Italy, Spain and three-time losing finalists Zimbabwe, who have in the past been invited for the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Brazil and Italy will make their first appearance at the tournament while Spain reached Bowl semi-finals on their debut last year. Other national teams preparing for the Nairobi event are continental regulars Namibia and Uganda.

Welsh Warriors will be out to defend their title what with other invitational sides like two-time losing finalists Samurai International, Australia Iconz, South Africa’s Western Province and debutantes England Saxons and Newcastle Wailers bracing up for the tournament.

Welsh Warriors edged Argentina 24-17 to win on their debut last year. Australia Iconz lost to Auckland Metro also from Australia 7-38 in Plate semi-finals last year. The 2000 and 2013 champions Shujaa and Morans will represent Kenya in the tournament.