Kenya’s tall or­der

Shu­jaa con­front France in the open­ing en­counter at Dubai Sevens in De­cem­ber

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - BY WIL­LIAM NJU­GUNA @mbote­s­ports

Kenya Sevens team will open their Dubai Sevens cam­paign against France on De­cem­ber 2.

Kenya, who are in Pool “D” will then meet Ja­pan and wind up their pre­lim­i­nary as­sign­ments against Aus­tralia. France have had the up­per hand over Kenya in last sea­son matches with Les Blues win­ning 2826 in Cape Town, South African 2421 in Van­cou­ver, Canada 24-5 at the Paris Sevens.

Shu­jaa will have to be at their best to beat the Ja­panese, who stunned them at the Olympics with a 31-7 drub­bing and edged them 19-14 at the Las Ve­gas Sevens tour­na­ment. Kenya got vic­tory against them in Dubai, win­ning nar­rowly 17-12.

Against Aus­tralia, Kenya lost twice to ‘The Team from Down Un­der’ los­ing 14-12 in Dubai and 17-12 in Welling­ton. Kenya best per­for­mance in Dubai came in 2012 and 2009, where they reached the semi-fi­nals.

Olympic gold medal win­ners and 2015-16 se­ries cham­pi­ons Fiji will be­gin their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Se­ries 2016-17 men’s cam­paign against Canada.

Fiji will have a new coach­ing setup fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Ben Ryan but as the reign­ing Dubai, se­ries and Olympic cham­pi­ons, they start as firm favourites. The is­lan­ders will also play Wales and Ar­gentina in Pool ‘A’ on Day 1 of the men’s sea­son.

Last sea­son’s sec­ond-ranked side South Africa, bronze medal­lists at the Olympics, start against African qual­i­fier Uganda with fur­ther matches against last sea­son’s Lon­don cham­pi­ons Scot­land and the USA.

For the first time in the 17-year his­tory of the se­ries, New Zealand will start the sea­son with­out long-time coach, Sir Gor­don Ti­et­jens. The 12time se­ries win­ner Ti­et­jens re­tired after the Olympic Games.

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