Kenyans disappointed as team is dropped from World 7s Series
Local rugby enthusiasts are disappointed by Sunday’s relegation of national rugby sevens side Shujaa after more than two decades of top flight rugby.
Shujaa was relegated from the prestigious HSBC World Sevens Series to a lower tier, the World Challenger Series on Sunday after losing their crucial decisive tie against Canada 12-7 during the four-nations winner takes it all - relegation playoffs hosted at the London sevens during the weekend.
The team’s all time top try scorer Collins Injera expressed a lot of disappointment and said that: “Its was now time to rebuild the team with proper structures.”
Kenyans took on twitter and other social media platforms to blame the previous regimes in the local rugby leadership for the national team’s relegation, claiming that lack of structures led to the crumble of the team that once won a leg of the world series, the Singapore Sevens in 2016.
Kenya’s captain Nelson Oyoo drew first blood shortly before dependable forward and impact player Kevin Wekesa was injured half way in that half while his replacement John Okoth was sin binned for tapping a passed ball to reduce Shujaa to six men in a tensed second half.
Canada’s win ensured the team that gained the core status back in the 2012/13 season will be the 12th team in the 2023/24 season.
Canada led the standings after their third match courtesy of an emphatic 43-7 win over Tonga to gain superior points difference after the playoff finalists tied on two wins from the group play after a close 10-14 loss to Uruguay
As a result of the playoffs loss, Kenya alongside Uruguay and Tonga will wait to attempt to gain the core status in 2024 relegation playoffs battle. The team that finished their season ranked 13th with 40points and termed the underdog in the 4nations playoffs by the virtue of the recent match losses to the three strong opponents rose to the occasion on the opener day with two wins but fell when it mattered most during the final. Out of the three sides to drop to the second tier of the World 7s series, only one could return while two will eventually be stuck in the 12-competition for a while because only the Challenger series winner could replace the 12th team to be relegated from the 2023/24 season.
The playoff final pitting Kenya and Canada was the second meeting between the two most experienced teams in the battle for 12th core position in the new season and it was Shujaa with the upper hand by the virtue of taming the Canadians 24-19 in a nervy group play match on the opener day but the Canadians hunted for vengeance during the decisive match.
Prior to the decider, coach Damian McGrath’s charges shocked Tonga 38-26 before losing 10-14 to Uruguay but despite the loss, Kenya still relegated Uruguay on points difference only to suffer the same fate against Canada.
Canada led the 4 nations standings courtesy of a positive 33points difference in comparison to Kenya’s positive 13 and Uruguay’s positive 5 while Tonga was at negative 51 points.
Uruguay on the other hand only needed a third try in the match against Kenya to make it to the final but their opponents put their bodies on the line on defense and on top of that registered a crucial penalty goal all in the name of keeping the points difference gap in check.