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New season, same old Shujaa

RUGBY By Washington Onyango | January 24th 2022 | 2 min read
Kenya Sevens Jeff Oluoch in action against Wales at Malaga Sevens in Spain.[Courtesy-World Rugby]

Kenya Sevens kicked off the third leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on a low note after performing poorly during the Malaga Sevens leg played over the weekend.

Shujaa won only one of the three Group D (Kenya, France, Wales and Canada) matches played last Friday and Saturday and overall, could only manage a 13th place playoffs finish.

The African heavyweights went to Spain, which was welcoming teams for the first time in the World Sevens Series history, with a goal of improving on their dull show during the double header at the Emirates Dubai Sevens played late last year.

Shujaa collected 10 points during the first leg where they finished eighth after losing to Ireland in the seven and eight classification match playoffs.

In the Dubai Sevens second leg, the Innocent Simiyu’s charges registered an improved performance when they collected 12 points after thumping USA 29-0 to finish sixth.

Overall, Kenya headed to Malaga ranked eighth in the standings with 22 points after a tough outing that saw them register only three wins out of the 12 matches played across the two legs.

Buoyed by the returning of KCB star Vincent Onyala, Shujaa were aiming higher at Malaga but were given a reality check after only managing one win. Shujaa could not even defeat Scotland in the ninth place playoffs.

Kenya kicked off Malaga Sevens on the wrong footing after losing their opening Group D matches against Canada (19-17) and Wales (19-14) on Friday.

The result left them with two points and a narrow chance of qualifying for the Main Cup quarterfinals, which did eventually happen on Saturday despite their remarkable comeback win against the French.

Trailing 15-0 at half time, Kenya Sevens powered their way back to win the match through Vincent Onyala’s brace, Nelson Oyoo touchdown and Derrick Ashiundu’s debut try.

The win against France saw them finish third in the pool with five points and dropped to ninth place playoffs, which they lost again 17-12 to drop down further to the 13th place playoffs.

Yesterday, Kenya ended the Malaga campaign with a disappointing 26-17 loss to Japan in the 13th place semis. Shujaa’s journey ends and will settle for the bottom two slots

On the bright side, Onyala put on a show for Kenya after scoring six tries across four matches played.

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