Kenya Simbas lift the Elgon Cup at Kyadondo in 2019.

Just over a year since South Africa clinched the Rugby World Cup in Japan, Kenya Rugby 15s head coach Paul Odera has said he eyes a maiden qualification for his charges to the next edition in 2023.

Odera was speaking to CGTN Africa’s Mohammed Aboubaker in an interview that was aired in the news early this week.

During the interview, the former Kenya Simbas international revealed part of his master plan to send the East African giants to France for their first appearance at the biggest stage in world rugby. He said that the first steps have been to set up a firm culture and value system within the Simbas that will carry the team through. He added that there will be increased use of data and analytics to select the best Kenyan team of rugby players across the world.

To qualify directly for the Rugby World Cup, Kenya needs to win the Rugby Africa Cup in 2022. Their strongest opponent for that slot is none other than Namibia who have qualified for all the editions since 1999. But Odera has coached a Kenyan side that has beaten Namibia before. This was at the 2019 U20 Barthes Tournament hosted in Nairobi, which he won.

The other qualifying chance is through a final qualification tournament in 2022 if they finish second in the Rugby Africa Cup.

On Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph, Odera acknowledged its impact in terms of pride it brought to the entire African community.

He, however, said there wasn’t much impact across the continent in terms of rugby.

In terms of an impact on African rugby, I don’t think it had much. Because South Africa in a way are considered first-world in terms of rugby, funding, and even who they play… because you don’t see many South African teams come to play fifteens (rugby) here.

Paul Odera, Kenya Rugby 15s head coach.
Kenya Simbas lift the Elgon Cup at Kyadondo in 2019.

Uganda Rugby Cranes are Kenya’s most frequent opponents in test rugby. The neighbouring East African countries play two rounds each year in one of the fiercest rugby rivalries, Elgon Cup. But Uganda has not been strong enough to give Kenya, who have won the last 4 editions, a strong contest.

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

Leave a comment

Please let us know what you think