Kenya 7's focus on Olympics qualifier in SA

By the punter
May 19, 2021
  • Kenya won the bowl competition by beating Argentina in the final of London Sevens and finished 13th overall. (Photo Courtesy)

  • Collins Injera scored his 200th try in London. (Photo Courtesy)

When the Kenya 7’s team lands back today from London after the completion of the 2014/2015 World Rugby Sevens World Series, the focus - like other teams - will be qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Only four core teams - Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and England - have qualified by virtue of finishing among the top four. The rest of the core teams - Kenya, Canada, USA, Samoa, Russia, Portugal, Scotland, Australia, Wales and Japan (who were relegated after a season) - will go through the regional qualifiers which start next month.

The performance of Kenya in the concluded season was not inspiring and it would not be easy in the qualifiers especially against Zimbabwe who just missed qualifying as a core team when they were beaten by Russia in the final in Hong Kong.

Winning the Bowl in London rubber-stamped Kenya's erratic performance which could be summed up as inconsistent. In an interview after the Bowl final, Humphrey Kayange identified the problem. “We have let ourselves down,” he said.

In London and Scotland, there was a glimpse of hope but the focus will be identifying players who have what it takes to compete at the highest level. A source from KRU had hinted there could be several changes to the technical bench and the player unit. The truth of this will be known after a mandatory 10-day rest for the players.

Kenya won only one match in London on the opening day against 2016 Olympic hosts Brazil in a lukewarm performance but bounced back to beat Japan, Samoa and Argentina to win the Bowl. The win could prove crucial when the draws for the 2015/2016 Series is released.

Four new venues

There are four new venues - Singapore, Paris, Cape Town and Sydney. Teams will not be travelling to Scotland and Japan which have been dropped from the just ended season. Paris in France is the preferred venue from Scotland, the birthplace of 7’s and Singapore it is instead of Tokyo, Japan.

The Series' overall winners was decided in London when Fiji beat South Africa in the cup quarter final. They were beaten by Australia in the semis but went on to win the play-off.

USA, coached by Michael Friday and Chris Brown (formerly on the Kenya technical bench) finished the season on a high by winning their first ever Series title. They beat Australia 45-22 in the final. Fiji won the play-off by beating England 26-12 and South Africa took the Plate. Japan won the Shield.

In the Bowl final, it was Argentina who were quick off the starting blocks with Gaston Revol going over for a converted try. The answer came from that man Injera who scored his 203rd try and Adema converted to level the scores 7-7.

Billy Odhiambo broke the deadlock with his seventh try and Adema converted for a 14-7 lead at halftime. Oscar Ayodi stretched the lead with a converted try.

One of the new kids on the block, Bush Mwale then made his traditional defence-splitting run to score Kenya’s fourth try Argentina scored at death but the Bowl was already in kenya’s hands. Odhiambo finished as the top joint scorer in London with seven tries.

Against Samoa, Kenya made their intent known from the kick off when Humphrey Kayange plucked the ball from the air and passed to Collins Injera who dotted the ball down for his 201 try in the World Series. Adema missed the conversion for a 5-0 lead.

Samoa responded with a Selesele try under the posts from a miss/attempted tackle to take the lead 7-5. That was as far as they went because Dennis Ombachi broke through three Samoa tackles and raced under the posts. Adema converted for the lead to change hands 12-7 in Kenya’s favor.

Powerful run by Kayange

Ombachi went over for his second from a powerful run by Kayange who drew in Samoan players and flicked the pass to Ombachi to score. Adema was sure and Kenya extended the lead 19-7. Just before the halftime, Odhiambo touched down and Adema slotted the extras for a 26-7 lead at halftime.

At half time, Felix Ochieng, the Kenya coach urged the players to go for width and maintain discipline. “Play with heart and don’t let this go away,” he implored. They responded with a try by Odhiambo from a turnover ball and an initial run by Andrew Amonde. Injera raced over for his 202 try of the Series latching on a backhand pass by Kayange.

Adema kicked over the conversion but was required to take it again after the referees consulted. The second kick hit the posts and slid in for a 38-7 final score.

In the quarter final, Kenya edged out Japan 24-12. Kayange opened the scores and Adema missed the conversion. Ombachi was next over and Adema was sure as Kenya led 12-0.

Then came the historic moment when Collins Injera scored his 200th try after which he autographed a ball and a camera! The cost? $11,000! Adema converted to stretch the lead 19-0. Odhiambo was next over for a 24-0 lead at halftime.

In the second half, it was Japan who started strongly and it was not long before Lote Touqiri scored a converted try. Kazushi Hano added the second try as Kenya failed to reproduce the first half form but they had done enough to win and book a date with Samoa in the semi-finals.

Guess what hit the headlines? The landmark 200th try by Injera? No. His $11,000 signature on a camera lens!

Final 2014/15 Series standings: Fiji 164, South Africa 154, New Zealand 152, England 132, Australia 120, USA 108, Scotland 89, Argentina 80, Canada 67, Samoa 64, France 61, Wales 55, Kenya 46, Portugal 28, Japan 21.

London Sevens day two results

Cup quarter finals: Fiji 19 South Africa 7, Scotland 19 Australia 31, USA 29 Canada 10, New Zealand 17 England 21; Semi final: Fiji 7 Australia 33, USA 43 England 12; Final: Australia 22 USA 45.

Playoff: Fiji 26 England 12.

Plate Semi final: South Africa 31 Scotland 7, Canada 15 New Zealand 33; Final: South Africa 14 New Zealand 26.

Bowl quarterfinals: Samoa 33 Portugal 14, Kenya 24 Japan 12, France 14 Argentina 17, Wales 29 Brazil 0; Semi finals: Samoa 7 Kenya 38, Argentina 29 Wales 14; Final: Kenya 26 Argentina 12.

Shield semi finals: Portugal 21 Japan 26, France 35 Brazil 12; Final: Japan 21 France 19.