Reality check for Kenya women rugby team ahead of Elgon Cup, WC qualifiers

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-10 22:03:54|Editor: ZX
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NAIROBI, June 10 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan women's rugby 15s team faces a reality check in its quest to make the World Cup in 2021.

The team of 40 named by Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) on Monday will have to face arch-rivals Uganda on three occasions in two months to secure the ticket to the World Cup and bragging rights for the regional Elgon Cup.

Kenya will host Uganda in the first leg of Elgon Cup leg on June 22 in Kisumu and the return leg in Kampala Uganda on July 13. The winner of the regional contest will lift the trophy and earn bragging rights.

However, after this tension has eased off, Kenya will head down to South Africa for the World Cup qualifiers, which kicks off one month after the Elgon Cup return leg and will run from July 9-17 in Johannesburg.

Kenya is in Pool A alongside Uganda, Madagascar and South Africa.

"Given that we are in the same pool with Uganda in the RWC Qualifiers, the Elgon Cup match will come in very handy for us as we are able to gauge our performance," said Felix Oloo, head coach of Kenya women's 15s team

The winner of the tournament will qualify directly to the World Cup while the second best team will play a match against a selected team from South America in order to join the global repechage tournament which will take place in 2020.

The tournament will comprise of the second placed teams in the Asia, Europe and Oceania regional tournaments and the winner of the play-off between South America and second-placed team from the Africa regional qualifier.

Kenya team has been in training for the last one month preparing for Elgon Cup and the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in August.

World Rugby introduced the World Cup qualifiers tournaments to widen the game's reach and involve as many teams as possible.

Oloo started off with a 50-player squad which was then narrowed down to 40 after weeks of skills tests. Within the next three weeks, Oloo confirms that the performance has improved massively in the set pieces and in the backline.

"As part of their preparation after World Rugby introduced the RWC Qualifiers tournament, the ladies started off with the three-week camp in Nanyuki where for them to make the cut into the National 15s team, they had to participate in at least two legs," said Oloo.

The top seven placed teams from the women's rugby World Cup in 2017, New Zealand, England, USA, France, Canada, Australia and Wales, have already secured automatic qualification for the competition in 2021.