Kenya’s national rugby sevens team, known as Shujaa, pulled off a spectacular victory against South Africa’s Blitzbokke in the Africa Sevens championship on Sunday.
The thrilling match ended with Shujaa securing a 17-12 win, earning them the title and a coveted ticket to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
This victory was even more remarkable considering the circumstances Shujaa faced leading up to the tournament. With a new group of players and a fresh technical bench, they entered the competition hoping to reclaim the title they last won in 2019. The team’s exceptional performance showcased their resilience and determination, shocking the highly-regarded South African side.
Patrick Odongo emerged as the star of the match, scoring two crucial tries that propelled Shujaa to victory. Reflecting on their achievement, coach Kevin Wambua expressed his delight and pride in the team’s hard work and dedication. He highlighted the significance of this win, particularly because they had faced relegation in the previous season. Wambua emphasized that this success demonstrated Kenya’s potential on the global stage and their ability to compete at the highest level.
Co-captain Tony Omondi echoed his coach’s sentiments, asserting that this victory meant everything to the team. He emphasized the team’s ongoing rebuilding process and the inclusion of six rookies in the squad, making their triumph even more inspiring. Omondi believed that their outstanding performance would serve as motivation for the team to strive for further success in the future.
The match reached a climactic moment when South Africa won possession after the final whistle. However, Shujaa’s defense held strong, and South Africa’s attempt to score a try was thwarted when they knocked the ball forward. With this crucial turnover, the Kenyan boys seized the opportunity to secure victory and claim the much-coveted ticket to the Olympic Games.
The game got off to a strong start for Shujaa as Odongo scored the opening try just two minutes in. Tony Omondi successfully converted the try, giving Kenya a 7-0 lead.
However, South Africa quickly responded with Angelo Davids scoring a try after some impressive footwork created an opening for him.
South Africa extended their lead when Johan Grobbelaar took advantage of a small gap in the Shujaa defense and scored their second try. The conversion was successful, putting them ahead 12-7 at halftime.
Shujaa showed resilience and evened the score when Okoth scored on the left side after patient buildup from a scrum. Vincent Onyala made a crucial offload to set up the big man’s try.
A well-executed play resulted in Shujaa’s third try, with Okoth avoiding desperate tackles to touch down.
While Shujaa secured their place in Paris, South Africa and Uganda, finishing third, will compete in the repechage tournament.