Shujaa star Patrick Odongo leading Kenya fight for redemption World Rugby Sevens

Kenya Sevens star Patrick Odongo in action in Dubai. [World Rugby]

Kenya had a triumphant weekend at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Dubai, with both the Kenya Sevens and Kenya Lionesses making significant strides in their respective competitions.

The standout performer for the Kenya Sevens was rising star Patrick Odongo, who single-handedly led Shujaa to victory with an outstanding display of skill and determination.

In a remarkable feat, Patrick Odongo scored a total of nine tries throughout the tournament, including a crucial brace in the final and a hat-trick in the semifinals.

His exceptional performance was instrumental in Kenya Sevens' success, showcasing his ability to shine on the big stage and carry the team to victory.

Despite a pool-stage defeat to Germany, Kenya Sevens demonstrated their class in the semifinals by defeating Uruguay 21-5.

Odongo was the star of the match, scoring all three Kenyan tries against Los Teros Sevens. In the final showdown against Chile, Odongo continued his exceptional form, adding another two tries as Kenya secured a hard-fought 12-7 victory.

Kenya Sevens co-captain Tony Omondi expressed the team's joy.

“We are super happy. We knew this Challenger event in Dubai was very crucial for us to start on a high, and now we must carry on with the momentum until the last tournament,” said the Mwamba star.

With this victory, Shujaa leads the men's standings with 20 points, positioning them as the team to beat in the Challenger Series.

The Challenger Series, introduced in February 2020 to boost the development of rugby sevens globally, serves as a clear promotion pathway to the top level of the short format of the game.

The 2024 edition of the Challenger Series will continue in Montevideo, Uruguay, on March 8-10 , before concluding with standalone women’s and men’s events in Krakow, Poland, and Munich, Germany, respectively, on May 18-19.

The top four teams in the Challenger Series standings at the end of the third round in May will earn a spot alongside the bottom four teams from HSBC SVNS 2024 in the promotion-relegation tournament at the Grand Final in Madrid.

This format provides teams with a tangible opportunity to advance to the elite level of the global sevens series, emphasising the significance of each Challenger Series event.

On the women's front, the Kenya Lionesses secured a silver medal at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series finals in Dubai.

Despite falling to China in the finals with a score of 19-5, the Lionesses' journey throughout the tournament was marked by impressive performances and significant achievements.

The road to the finals for the Lionesses was not without its challenges, as they experienced both a loss and a win in the opening two Group B matches. However, a decisive 40-0 victory over Mexico propelled them to the top of their pool, earning them seven points and a quarterfinal berth against Czech Rep.

In the quarterfinals, the Lionesses sought revenge against the Czech team, and standout performances from Naomi Amuguni, Sinaida Nachio, and Stella Wafula led to a convincing 22-12 win.

This set the stage for a semifinal clash against Argentina, where the Lionesses delivered a commanding performance with a 17-0 shutout, securing their place in the finals.

The success of the Kenya Lionesses in Dubai is not only a testament to their growing stature in international rugby sevens but also serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring female athletes in Kenya.

The Challenger Series, as an essential platform for the development of rugby sevens globally, provides a crucial pathway for emerging rugby nations, and the Lionesses' achievement is a significant milestone in their rugby journey.

As both the Kenya Sevens and Kenya Lionesses look ahead to the next round of the Challenger Series in Montevideo, they carry the momentum gained from Dubai and aim to continue their impressive performances on the international stage.

With Odongo leading the charge for the Kenya Sevens and the Lionesses proving their prowess, Kenyan rugby is undoubtedly on an upward trajectory in the world of sevens.

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