Kenya is Africa's sole representative at the 2019 World Junior Rugby Championship. And the team is ready for the challenge ahead.
Chipu, as the team is known, booked a slot to the global showpiece which is World Rugby’s second-tier youth competition after winning the Africa under-20 championship in April. They finished fourth in their last appearance at the tournament in 2009 when it was hosted in Nairobi. The team has been drawn in pool A alongside Japan, Uruguay, and hosts Brazil.
"Uruguay has been in this tournament for about seven consecutive years. Japan on paper seems to be the strongest team having been relegated from the top tier,” said coach Paul Odera.
“We have had video analysis sessions of this level of rugby which the current team has not been exposed to before. The pace exhibited by the teams in our pool is going to test us but we are confident in our defence which got us through against Namibia,” he added.
Odera also serves as the men’s senior 15s coach and has retained the bulk of the squad which played at the continental championship with only three changes made. The new faces included are Timothy Okwemba of Masinde Muliro University, Nakuru RFC centre John Okoth and South Africa-based Andrew Simiyu.
KCB’s George Maranga missed out because of academic commitments while injury has ruled out Beldad Ogeta. Kenya Harlequin prop Bonface Ochieng’ is the captain while Samuel Asati (KCB) and Dominic Coulson are deputies. Chipu will line up against Uruguay on July 9.
Hopefully, in the next year, Africa will have more teams at the junior rugby championships.
Header Image Credit: Citizen