NAIROBI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Six top-ranked World Rugby Sevens Series core teams have been invited to take part in this year's Safari Sevens, Kenya's premier competition in October.
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) vice-chairman Thomas Opiyo said that World Series silver medalists the U.S., African powerhouses South Africa, England, France, Canada, and Spain are all expected to grace the three-day competition in Nairobi from Oct. 18 to 20.
The teams will be using the tournament to gauge their preparedness ahead of the World Series tournament, which has stops in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States.
"I am optimistic that this year's event will be much better because we have some of the best teams coming to Nairobi for the tournament," said Opiyo on Friday in Nairobi.
Three former Series teams namely Japan, Russia, and Portugal have also been invited.
"We have made the invitation to the top teams and in two weeks' time, we will know who has confirmed," Opiyo added.
Last year's tournament was won by Samurai, who reclaimed the Safari Sevens title with a 21-14 victory over Kenya's senior side Shujaa in a pulsating final.
Other teams that took part were the Emerging Boks from South Africa, University of Johannesburg, Spain, Uganda, Portugal, Namibia and Wales, Ireland, Apachi 7s, Blue Bulls and Golden Lions. Kenya will field two teams - Shujaa and Morans - in the Safari Sevens tournament.
Ahead of the Africa rugby Olympic qualifiers, Kenya will use the Safari Sevens to select the players for the qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.
The U.S. and South Africa have secured qualification to the Olympics after finishing in second and fourth in the World Sevens Series. Champions Fiji and Australia are the other teams who clinched the tickets to Tokyo 2020 games.
Kenya will also compete at the Africa Sevens tournament in Johannesburg, South Africa from Nov 8-9. Other teams competing will be Zimbabwe, Uganda, Namibia, Ghana, Botswana, and Nigeria. The tournament will be used to select the African representative to the Tokyo Olympic Games.