Monday, March 9, 2009

Kenya back after historic RWC run

Courtesy of The Nation Media Group

The national sevens rugby team on Sunday returned home to a heroic reception following their outstanding performance at the just-concluded IRB Sevens World Cup in Dubai.

The team, led by coach Benjamin Ayimba and captain Humphrey Kayange, landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the afternoon to one of the most glamorous receptions ever accorded to sports stars returning from international duty.

There was a carnival mood at the airport as dozens of jubilant fans joined the players in song and dance while a battery of excited journalists clicked away.

Ayimba and Kayange described their performance as "phenomenal".

The Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) chairman, Richard Omwela, said the feat was a breakthrough not only for rugby but other sports in the country as well.

And Kayange said that their trial match against Fiji is what did the trick as Kenya rolled over the defending champions 26-7 to snatch a pricey Melrose Cup semi-final.

However, Argentina ended Kenya's fairytale with a 12-0 win in the semi-final.

Ayimba, who lavished praise on his troops for their belief, determination and hardwork, said they will continue to build on their success and at least reach the final in one the remaining events in the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series this season.

Ayimba and Kayange were speaking upon arrival from their historic World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Automatic qualification

The sevens national team on Saturday made history by becoming the second team in Kenyan sporting circles after the cricket team to reach the semi-finals of a World championship.

The cricket team upset the likes of Sri Lanka to reach the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup that was jointly-hosted by Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

By making the Cup quarters at the World Cup, it means that Kenya automatically qualifies for the next Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013 hence creating one more room for another African country to join the elite group.

"It is known that when you are leaving high you tend not to work hard and that is what we want to avoid," said Ayimba upon arrival from Dubai.

Ayimba said that their focus now shifts to Hong Kong Sevens, the next event in the IRB World series.

"We want to at least to go past the quarterfinals. I will be glad if a win will come along side things are now becoming very unpredictable," said Ayimba.

Ayimba rued the errors the team committed against Argentina that cost them the final spot. "We are all humans beings and bound to mistakes," he said.

Kayange said that their triumph over Fiji exposed the giants.


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