KRU to name new Kenya 7s boss on Thursday


Kenya Rugby 7s coach Benjamin Ayimba (L), Paul Murunga (C) and CEO Kenya Rugby Ronald ...
Kenya Rugby 7s coach Benjamin Ayimba (L), Paul Murunga (C) and CEO Kenya Rugby Ronald Bukusu address the media at the RFUEA grounds on March 30, 2016. The select team left for Amsterdam 7s on Thursday, May 26, 2016. Photo/Oliver Ananda/www.sportpicha.com

The Kenya Rugby Union will announce the new national rugby sevens team technical bench on Thursday at Nairobi’s RFUEA Grounds.

In a press communication, the Union said the unveiling will be done at 11am with conflicting lists of nominees already in circulation after they declared the seat vacant at the beginning of last month.

Onelist features Benjamin Ayimba who led the side last season alongside Paul Murunga, former international Innocent Simiyu and Charles Cardovillis.

Ayimba’s name is missing from the second list with the same names except the addition of Fijian Sailosi Naiteqe.

Ayimba and Murunga were in charge of Shujaa and Moran Kenya 7s sides that played at the Safari 7s where the former won the invitational tournament as the latter bowed out at the semi finals of the Africa Cup to neighbours Uganda who went on to bag the crown.

Speaking in an earlier interview, Ayimba who led Kenya to seventh position in the 2015/16 HSBC World Sevens Series indicated he would be willing to continue in his role.

However, his fate was thrown into doubt after another shortlist without his name gained traction on social media earlier this week.

Murunga, or ‘Pau’ as he is known in rugby circles, has been served as assistant to the team last season besides being the head coach of Homeboyz RFC and is a former boss of the national Under 19 squad.

Kenya Harlequins boss, Cardovillis has been at the top of the local game for a considerable amount of time.

Since joining Quins in 2006, first as an assistant and now as head coach his achievements have been impressive.

Quins have won three consecutive Kenya Cup, two Enterprise titles, a Sevens Circuit title, three Bamburi Super Series titles and Supremacy Cup with Cardovillis part of the technical bench.

Simiyu or ‘Namcos’ is another former captain of the sevens side who is touted in some quarters as a favourite for the role should the Union opt for a man who has been part of the set up when Kenya emerged as a force in Sevens rugby.

He battled serious injury to return to the sport, captaining the Kenya A side that took on Hong Kong in the prelude to their 15s Test clash in August.

Samurai Barracudas coach Naiteqe Senior is a former Fijian club coach and selector who was interviewed for the job via tele-conferencing by KRU last week.

But all eyes will be on Ayimba who returned to the post at the beginning of last season when Kenya had just survived relegation as a Core Team of the HSBC Series to finish 13th led the side to bag its first ever Main Cup title when they stunned champions Fiji in the final of Singapore 7s.

Having led Shujaa to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics in South Africa last November when they beat Zimbabwe in the Africa qualifiers, Ayimba led the team to place 11th out of 12 nations that took part in the competition where the sport made its debut at Games by beating hosts Brazil 24-0 for their only win in Brazil.

Kenya will get their 2016/17 HSBC Series campaign underway with a clash against France at 8.00am local time on December 2 at the opening leg in Dubai before taking on Japan  at 11.00am.

They will complete their Pool D fixtures with a match against Australia at 5.17pm.

Having captained the Kenya 7s side since 2000, Ayimba succeeded his club coach at Impala RFC, Bill Githinji as the national coach in 2006 aged 30 making him the youngest coach on the IRB circuit and the nation’s history.

In April 2009, he led Kenya to the first ever Main Cup finals in Sydney, Australia on the then IRB World Series where they lost 7-26 against an inform South Africa, the same year he led the team to the semi finals of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Dubai.

He reportedly fell out with KRU Directors when he led his team to State House Nairobi to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of Rio Olympics, allegations given credence when the Union advertised for the post at the beginning of last month.

According to the Union, 14 applicants, among them Ayimba and eight foreigners applied for the job.

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