NAIROBI, Kenya, June 2 – The national rugby 15s team has been boosted by the return of utility player Darwin Mukidza ahead of Saturday’s historic Curry Cup Division 1 crunch against South African top side Leopards.
Also, back in the starting line-up named by head coach Paul Odera on Thursday at the RFUEA Grounds, is experienced Davis Chenge, who was out because of injury.
The team will be skippered by Kabras Sugar Rugby Club star Daniel Sikuta with youngster Andrew Matoka making the list against the defending champions as the prestigious Curry Cup comes to Kenya for the first time.
Odera said the team has had an ample preparations since they started playing in the Curry Cup early April, and will be banking on the matches to get the full fitness that will see them maneuver through the qualifiers to qualify for the maiden Rugby World Cup set for France in 2023.
Kenya will start its qualifiers in the quarter final against neighbors Uganda July 2, hoping to advance into the semis where the winner between Senegal and Algeria awaits.
“South Africa have quality that has been enabled by the structures from the provision to the national team Springbox and we hope Kenya can emulate that. It has been a massive journey for the Simbas since April because out of a leap of faith, we competed in the Curry Cup credit to our chairman Gangla (Oduor),” Odera said.
He added, “The goal is to qualify to go to France in 2023 for the World Cup, we thank the South African Rugby Union and the Leopards for buying into our idea of supporting us to prepare for the World Cup. We have five big games coming up, and this competition has a lot of significance and it has already given us the much-needed exposure.”
Kenya Rugby Union boss Oduor Gangla has called on fans to turn up in large numbers to rally behind the Simbas.
“Our team has been playing in the Curry Cup since the beginning of April, we have so far played seven games. We got the opportunity to host two games in Nairobi after approval from the South African Rugby Union. This is the first Curry Cup in Kenya it is good to host them in Nairobi,” Gangla stated.
“The Simbas has been out competing and I am pleased with the work that has been put in by the team in the Curry Cup. Kenyan fans have the opportunity to experience high level of rugby, we look forward to a very first and entertaining match,” the KRU boss said.
In the other quarter-final pairings for the Africa World Cup qualifiers, champions Namibia plays Burkina Faso on July 1 while Zimbabwe takes on Ivory Coast the same day.
15. Darwin Mukidza,14. Derrick Ashiundu, 13. Vincent Onyala, 12. John Okoth, 11. Beldad Ogeta, 10. Dominic Coulson, 9. Samuel Asati, 1. Edward Mwaura, 2. Teddy Akala, 3. Ephraim Oduor, 4. Emmanuel Silungi, 5. Davis Chenge,6. George Nyambua, 7. Daniel Sikuta ©, 8. Bethuel Anami REPLACEMENTS 16. Eugene Sifuna, 17. Andrew Siminyu, 18. Joseph Odero, 19, Thomas Okeyo, 20. Martin Owillah,21. Brian Tanga, 22. Bryceson Adaka, 23. Andrew Matoka.
15. Duren Hoffman,14. Poienaar van Niekerk, 13. Andries Truter©, 12. Vuyo Mboto, 11. Quan Eymann, 10. Martin Venter, 9. Shirwin Cupido, 1. Ruben du Plessis, 2. Robey Leibrandt, 3. Joe Ngcem, 4. Marvelous Mashumbyi, 5. Vince Maruping, 6.Gustav Erlank, 7.Brice Nteta, 8.HP Swart REPLACEMENTS 16.Tiaan van Niekerk, 17.JP Mans, 18.Sampie Swiegers, 19.Matrco van Deventer, 20.Tjaart Benadie, 21.Eugene Hare,22.Riaan Genis, 23.Keenan Twigg.