Kenya hosts first international rugby event in more than a year

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Rugby Ball Laying in Grass (Photo by Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The 2021 U20 Barthes Trophy will get underway later on Saturday as Kenya hosts its first international rugby event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.

The tournament, which features eight national U20 teams, will be held at the Nyayo National Stadium in the capital Nairobi and run until July 11.

The U20 Barthes Trophy 2021 gets underway in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on June 26. (Photo by Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The tournament’s first game will see defending champions Kenya play Senegal at 4pm (local time).

Last year’s tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic.

This year’s event is being held under strict COVID-19 regulations and no fans will be allowed to attend the matches. The matches will be broadcast on TV and on the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and Rugby Africa digital platforms.

The tournament received a boost ahead of its official kick-off with the KRU reporting that all players had tested negative.

“It has been challenging to get this event up and running in light of the prevailing circumstances but we ensured that the tournament happens in a safe environment.  COVID is going to be with us for a long time and we must learn to adapt to its presence in all spheres of our daily lives,” KRU chairman Oduor Gangla said.

“The Government of Kenya, particularly the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Heritage under the leadership of the Honorable Cabinet Secretary, Amb (Dr.) Amina Mohammed and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo have been of immense help to the Kenya Rugby Union,” Gangla added.

“Not only did they support our bid to host this event, but they have also been pivotal in seeking the input of other State agencies to make sure that the 2021 U20 Barthes Trophy takes place successfully.”

The KRU is aiming for a successful tournament which will usher in three weeks of international rugby in the country.

The men’s national 15s team, Simbas, are to host Zambia and Senegal in the Rugby Africa Cup (RAC) between July 3-11 while the women’s national 15s squad, Lionesses, will play Madagascar on July 7.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted Kenya’s rugby season with play being suspended at least twice since last year in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

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