Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera paid glowing tribute to his charges before resigning after the team’s 22-18 loss to Hong Kong in their final 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifying match in Dubai on Friday.
That happened as Portugal Wolves stunned United States Eagles to qualify for the 2023 RWC finals in France.
The Wolves forced a 16-16 draw against the Eagles to sail through on better aggregate after they had previous thrashed Kenya 85-0 and Hong Kong 42-14.
The USA beat Kenya 68-14 and Hong Kong 49-7.
Portugal will join Pool “C” of the 2023 RWC in France that already has Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia.
“It has been three years since I accepted the offer from the Kenya Rugby Union to coach the team. It has been an interesting journey with highs and lows,” said Odera in his resignation seen by Nation Sport.
“Such is the nature of sport and the game that we love, rugby. If it was too easy, we wouldn’t know the joy of achieving our goals and the pleasure of knowing we worked hard to make them happen.”
Odera noted that after failing to lead the Simbas to the World Cup, he decided to take responsibility for the results.
“However, a national team’s results have more than one measurable besides the head coach. There are others who are also accountable and responsible for a sustainable financial strategy, building a High Performance environment, arranging competitive fixtures and creating a pathway for players from the grassroots to the Simbas,” said Odera.
Odera said it was a great pleasure and honour to work with some “exceptional rugby players.”
“I am grateful for the time I spent coaching you,” said Odera.
Kenya blew an 11-point lead to lose 22-18 to Hong Kong on Friday.
The Simbas were on course to a historic win at the tournament popularly known as the Repechage after they led 18-7 at half time before they allowed Hong Kong to win.
Kenya finished their campaign without a win and at the bottom of the four-team competition table, having lost to the United States of America Eagles 68-14 and Portugal Wolves 85-0.
Simbas had earlier on this week boycotted training due to unpaid allowances before Hemingways Collection donated Sh1.8 million ahead of their last match of 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) final qualification tournament in Dubai.