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Kenya Sevens stun South Africa to win Africa Sevens, qualify for Paris Olympics

 Kenya Sevens celebrate after winning the Africa Sevens title.[Facebook, Rugby Afrique]

Daystar University Falcons star Patrick Odongo touched down two important tries to inspire Kenya Sevens to a 17-12 win over South Africa’s Blitzboks and win the Rugby Africa Sevens title in Harare, Zimbabwe on Sunday evening.

The win saw Kenya also qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in what is the start of a healing process for Shujaa who were relegated from the World Rugby Sevens Series earlier this year.

Odongo, alongside five other debutants, were instrumental for Shujaa in Harare where new coach Kevin Wambua helped Kenya win its sixth continental sevens title, a title they recaptured since they last won in 2019.

Odongo got Kenya underway in the finals with a centre post-try after beating the South African defence with pace in the right wing, a try Tony Omondi converted to give Kenya a 7-0 lead.

The perfect start did not last long as Omondi’s long kick restart did not go according to plan as the Blitzboks took advantage of the large space to break through the midfield through the powerful runner Selvyn Davids who cut Shujaa's lead to 7-5 after missed conversion. 

The Blitzboks would then take the lead through Christie Grobbelar whose converted try saw Kenya trail 12-7 at the break.

 Shujaa's Patrick Odongo during training in Nairobi.[Jonah Onyango]

In the final half, Odongo returned to torment the South African backline again, this time in the left wing as he paced through to score an unconverted try that tied the scores at 12-12 with three minutes left to play.

John Okoth would score the winning try with under a minute left on the clock as Kenya picked a historical 17-12 win.

Odongo finished the tournament with seven tries on his first outing with Shujaa. The Daystar University player scored three tries during the preliminary stages before scoring in the quarterfinals, semis, and a brace in the finals.

The win means Kenya is through to the Paris Olympics set for next year. South Africa will drop to the Olympic Repechage where they will be fighting for the final and 12th spot in Paris.

Additionally, Kenya will be joined by bronze medalists Uganda to fight for a place in the 2024-2025 World Rugby Sevens. They will play in the qualifiers dubbed Challenger Series.

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