- Simiyu was fired after a stint of poor results
- He was in his second stint as head coach
- Briton Damian McGrath takes over on a two-year deal
The Kenya Rugby Union has fired Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu as the head coach of the national men’s sevens team, Shujaa, and replaced him with immediate former Germany head coach Damian McGrath.
Simiyu, who was in his second stint at Shujaa head coach was fired on the backdrop of a horrendous performance at the Africa 7s, where Kenya relinquished the title and snatched a qualification to the Rugby World Cup by the skin of their teeth after finishing third.
The tactician has been fired alongside second assistant coach Anthony Muchiri and conditioning coach Mike Shamiah.
“The Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) has opted to part ways with Innocent Simiyu, Head Coach of the Kenyan men’s national sevens team, Shujaa. Also leaving the Shujaa set up are technical benchmembers Michael Shamiah and Anthony Muchiri,” a statement from the Union said.
It added; “We offer our sincerest thanks to Innocent, Michael, and Anthony for their tireless efforts and extend our very best wishes for the future.”
The new boss McGrath takes charge on a two-year contract which will see him finish the World Rugby Sevens Series season before switching attention to the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup which will be played in September in South Africa.
The tactician has a loaded CV. He boasts close to thirty years of coaching experience, having most recently led Germany 7s to victory at the World Rugby Challenger Series in Chile in 2020.
He previously coached Canada 7s between 2016 and 2019, leading the Canadians to the cup title at the 2017 Singapore 7s.
Prior to the Canadian job, Damian was in charge of the Samoa 7s squad during the 2015-16 season, leading them to the cup title at the 2016 Paris 7s.
He also coached England 7s at the 2002 and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Glasgow as well as the 2005 Rugby World Cup 7s in Hong Kong.
Shujaa is currently placed 10th in the World Rugby standings with 37 points from the first six tournaments and has progressed to the Cup quarters on only two occasions. With three rounds left before the season ends, McGrath hopes to turn the tide.
His first task will be to re-collect the dressing room and bring back team spirit, something that sources disclose was lost under Namcos. There was an apparent player attitude and division among the squad, especially with rumours that the tactician had his own select group of players who he preferred.
It will be interesting to see whether the coach might recall some of the old guard who have since moved to the 15s after falling out of favour with Simiyu in the sevens team.