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Pressure mounts on coach Snook as Kenya 15s miss out on WC

The future of Ian Snook as Kenya 15s coach hangs in the balance after he failed to achieve his target of qualifying the Simbas for the 2019 Japan World Cup.

Snook replaced South African Jerome Paarwater in March, signing a two-year contract, but his employers Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) were clear.

“It’s a short notice for them but they need to come now so as to explore our structures and opponents and tell us what we need to qualify for Japan,” said KRU boss Richard Omwela while unveiling the New Zealand tactician.

However, that dream is now over after Simbas lost 42-17 to Hong Kong in the repechage in France on Saturday, their second straight loss at Stade Delort in Marseille following a 65-19 thrashing by Canada in the opening match the previous weekend, leaving Snook’s job in jeopardy. 

Hong Kong now need to beat Canada on Friday by more than seven points and prevent them from scoring four or more tries to ensure their first-ever appearance at the tournament.

That is after Canada moved to within one point from a place at next year’s Rugby World Cup after beating Germany 29-10 in the round-robin tournament, requiring a losing bonus point against Hong Kong in the final match next weekend to claim a spot at the showpiece event in Japan.

It means Kenya’s long wait for a World Cup place will continue up to at least 2023 when the next tournament is held having come close to qualifying for the 2015 and 2019 editions.

Simbas missed on automatic qualification after a 53-28 defeat to Namibia in the Africa Gold Cup in August 18 and were hoping to sneak through via the repechage where only on team from the four-nation tournament qualifies.

Winger Tony Onyango drew first blood, his try converted by fly-half Sammy Oliech giving Kenya a 7-0 lead before Elkeans Musonye touched down a converted try to extend it to 14-0.

But Hong Kong, who lost their opening match of the campaign to Germany, came back from 14-0 down after 23 minutes to run in six tries, two of them from backrow forward Thomas Lamboley.

“I am very proud of what we gave and we will be back. Securing a lead to the end is something we need to work on going forward. We need to just rectify how we close the game because we were in for the longest time but we had bad call towards the end and lost it there,” said Simbas skipper Wilson K’Opondo.

Simbas will play Germany in a meaningless final match for them this weekend before returning home and will have to do proper homework ahead of the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign.

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