Kenya Rugby League National Team will replace Morocco in the Middle East-Africa Rugby League Championship (MEA), which will be hosted at the Legon Stadium, University of Accra, Ghana, from September 27 to October 2, the European Rugby League has announced.
The Middle East-Africa Rugby League Championship (MEA) is a rugby league competition for national teams from the Middle East and Africa that the Rugby League European Federation organises.
The first tournament was held in 2015 as a part of the qualification process for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and was followed by tournaments in 2019 and 2020 with an expanded structure.
First major event
It will be the first major tournament for Kenya. Speaking about the new development, Kenya Rugby League Chairman Richard Adhere stated that Kenya’s involvement will boost in the growth of the sport in the country.
“It’s a great opportunity to assess the progress of Kenya Rugby League and will help motivate players in a high-performance environment,” said KRLF chair Richard Adhere.
“This will definitely spur the growth of rugby league in Kenya. It will also accord RL an opportunity to market and grow a brand that is still in its infancy.”
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John Mbai, KRLF director of growth and development, added: “We have developed a local working structure that has been designed ostensibly as a platform for players to move into the international arena, as part of growing the game. This will also add impetus to efforts geared towards player development through clubs, and make the domestic league more competitive. It will be a learning opportunity and help empower our referees, coaches and other staff on how best to run and manage the game.”
Kenya as an observer
Kenya’s squad will be coached by former Leeds and Dewsbury winger Eddie Rombo and although the MEA Championship is now a pathway to Rugby League World Cup 2025 qualification, Kenya – whilst still an observer member – is not eligible to proceed, but intends to submit an affiliate membership application within the next 12 months.
MEA regional director, Remond Safi, said: “It’s great to have Kenya stepping up to participate at short notice after Morocco’s governance issues coming out of the pandemic. Kenya’s involvement will increase awareness and player pathways in local activity, and will aid the KRLF objectives to fulfil its affiliate membership application once their first international fixtures are completed.”