Kenya’s Billy Odhiambo is tackled in the men’s sevens rugby match between England and Kenya during day one of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on January 25, 2020. (Photo by Michael Bradley, AFP)

Kenya’s national rugby sevens men’s side Shujaa have been pooled alongside South Africa, the United States of America and the Republic of Ireland in the Tokyo Olympic Games set to begin on Friday, July 23.

The women’s team, Kenya Lionesses, will tackle New Zealand, the Russian Olympic Committee team and Great Britain.  

The 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams have been placed in three pools each holding four teams, which are based on rankings deduced from performances over the past two years in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and other World Rugby certified tournaments.

Shujaa and Lionesses will continue to train in a bubble at Moi Stadium, Kasarani before departure to Kurume City for the Games next month.

Rugby Sevens is making its second-ever appearance at the Olympic Games.

Earlier in the week, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) withdrew its national sevens teams from the Quest for Gold 7s tournament staged in Los Angeles (25th).

KRU cited short turnaround time and safety concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic as reasons why the teams had to be withdrawn from the tournament.

“The withdrawal has been occasioned by player safety concerns in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. With the turnaround time for this tournament being too close to next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, we had to make the difficult decision of pulling the teams out of the competition,” said KRU in a statement.

Kenya Lionesses Janet Okello in action at Dubai 7s. [Courtesy]

Pools in detail:

MEN POOL A:

Current Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Series Champions New Zealand and Australia will face off in Group A, which also holds Argentina and Olympics debutants Republic of Korea.

MEN POOL B: 

Reigning champions Fiji will have to take on Great Britain, Japan and Canada in Group B, with the group holding three of the top four placed teams from the Olympic Games in 2016.

MEN POOL C: 

Rio 2016 Olympic Bronze medalists South Africa will tackle Shujaa (Kenya), the United States of America (USA) and the Republic of Ireland.

WOMEN POOL A:

World Cup Sevens and World Series title holders New Zealand will have been pooled alongside the Russian Olympic Committee team, Great Britain and Kenya (Lionesses). 

WOMEN POOL B:

Three is no Olympic debutant in this group, with Rio 2016 Bronze medalists Canada pooled alongside France, Fiji and Brazil. 

WOMEN POOL C:

Rio 2016 Olympic champions Australia have will face hosts Japan, USA and competition debutants China.

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