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November 18, 2018

Kenya eye Currie Cup

Fernando Lopez of Spain’s Los Leones tackles Joshua Chisanga of Kenya’s Simbas during a past test match. /PIC-CENTRE
Fernando Lopez of Spain’s Los Leones tackles Joshua Chisanga of Kenya’s Simbas during a past test match. /PIC-CENTRE

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) have sent an application to be included in the 2017 Currie Cup in South Africa.

Director of Elite rugby and performances at the KRU, Oscar Mango, said the application was made a few weeks ago and are awaiting a response from thew South Africa Rugby Union (SARU).

Kenya’s proposal comes amid news that the Vodacom Cup, which featured Kenya in 2014, has been scrapped and merged with the Currie Cup.

Mango said proposals were on the table to host some matches on Kenyan soil unlike the Vodacom Cup, where Kenya played all the matches in South Africa. “It was very expensive to play and keep the team in South Africa for two months and one of the proposals accepted is to have some games played in Nairobi,” added Mango.

Kenya played eight games at the Vodacom Cup, winning one and losing seven to finish seventh above Border Bulldogs in the Southern section. The event was part of Kenya team build-up in preparation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifiers and the country almost qualified but lost out to Zimbabwe in Madagascar in the final match.

Mango said should they get the nod to play in the competition, the Kenya Simbas stand a good chance of qualification to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“We have made good strides in the past two years and our ranking has improved from 29 to 22 in the last one year. With the talent and determination being exhibited by the team, I am sure we can qualify for the World Cup,” added Mango.

Despite Kenya finishing seventh in the Vodacom two years ago, a couple of players stood out, owing to their exemplary performance. Joshua Chisanga, who was named Most Valuable Player in the match against Western Province is now plying his trade in the England with Newcastle Falcons. Peter Karia was also picked out and in the later parts of 2015 earned a scholarship to study and play at the University of Western Cape. Key players that emerged during the Vodacom Cup included Mike Okombe, Edwin Achayo, siblings James and Joseph Kangethe, Oliver Mangeni, Nick Barasa, Lyle Asiligwa and Curtis Lilako amongst others.

Vodacom Cup, which has been running for 17 years, came to an end last year and was replaced by an enlarged and longer Currie Cup competition.

The change meant that more Currie Cup rugby will be played thus— 166 matches compared to 76 in 2015—with every team facing each other in the first stage of the competition.

The Super Rugby unions will move on to the Premier Division with the three non-franchise teams with the greatest number of log points. The remaining six will contest the First Division title.

The second stage competitions will also be played over a single round and points will not be carried over from the first stage. The Premier Division will have a quarter-final round while the First Division will have semi-finals.

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