The Kenya U13 IAPS Rugby 7s is again building a squad to tour the UK and join over 7,000 players from around the world, to take part in the annual School Boys’ Sevens Tournament.
From its humble beginning in 1939, the Rosslyn Park National School 7s has evolved to become the largest rugby tournament in the world. With coaches, parents and other spectators, the numbers are expected to reach in excess of 15,000 over the course of the week-long tournament. The prep school tournament takes place at Rosslyn Park RUFC between 23rd and 24th March 2015.
Stephen Pope and Matt Dams from The Banda School, have been teaching in Kenya for one year and have recently replaced Mr. Avery and Mr. Raikes as this year's coaches. They both have a wealth of playing experience and have led a number of successful 7s teams through various tournaments, including Rosslyn Park.
A former professional first class wicket-keeper, Stephen is also an ex-international rugby player, playing scrum half for England and competing in a number of international fixtures up to the age of 16. Matt played rugby for the Royal Marines and represented his unit in 7s competitions against other elite regiments. He also spent some time playing and coaching in New Zealand. During this time, he was fortunate enough to work closely with ex-professional players and former and current international first team coaches. Both Stephen and Matt coached alongside the international coaches touring with Ultimate Rugby (UR7s) as part of their Kenya Tour, where they worked with Kenya U19 and Kenya Sevens. The coaches are committed to excellence and passionate about helping successive Kenya Under 13 IAPS sides reach their potential in the UK. They are also honoured to have one of their Banda School pupils, Ethan Harney, in the Kenya team.
A 10-day tour to the UK is planned, which will allow the squad to participate in other fixtures and gain vital experience, as well as allowing increased time for acclimatisation and activities outside of Rugby before they take part in Rosslyn Park. In the past, the tour has focused on just one or two main host establishments. In contrast, they feel that the trip would be a greater experience for the boys if they visited a number of different schools and took in some of the UK sights and attractions along the way. They intend to spend the majority of the tour traveling between London and the South-West of England, staying at and visiting four prestigious UK schools: Uppingham, Cheltenham College, Milfield, and Dulwich College.
So far, both Matt and Stephen have been overwhelmed by the positive response to training and the level of engagement from the Kenya IAPS schools. The initial training and selection sessions have focused on core skills, match fitness and modified gameplay. The boys have had the opportunity to develop their rugby skills whilst participating in a range of practices and playing various conditioned games. With the weight restrictions that were previously in place now removed, the coaches have stressed on the need to find big-build, athletic boys that can be developed into promising young Kenyan Talent.
This tour is in an extremely exciting prospect for the boys and families involved in the Kenya U13 IAPS Sevens squad as they get to experience and participate in a wide range of activities which would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
The coaches and players would like to thank Air Kenya and KIDL Operations for their continued support, without whom the tour would not be possible. They also thank Marco Brighetti, who has been instrumental in keeping the strong working relationship in the Kenya U13 IAPS Rugby 7s team.
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