Shujaa bask in glory, fans soak the moment as attention shifts to Olympics, HSBC Series

Shujaa bask in glory, fans soak the moment as attention shifts to Olympics, HSBC Series

Brian Mutugi (L) congratulates teammate Vincent Onyala after scoring a try in their 41-0 win over Mexico at the HSBC Challenger 2024 in Dubai on Friday 12th January, 2024. Photo courtesy of World Rugby - art by Mike Lee.

National Rugby Sevens team Shujaa achieved their ultimate goal of returning to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series last night after they brushed aside Germany 33-15.

It’s a result that brought utter joy to many, including the commentators of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

And the sweet triumph, that has seen Shujaa punch their way back to the Series, nearly brought a pandemonium as elated Shujaa players and the technical bench went heads over heel, in celebrating the feat.

Looking on from the stands was the country’s Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba together with Kenya’s rugby supremo Alexander Sasha Mutai. This was indeed a historic moment that will remain engraved in the minds of Kenyan rugby enthusiasts.

Soaking up the atmosphere and the magnitude of the moment, head coach Kevin ‘Bling’ Wambua was appreciative of the fans who have followed the boys round the world since the opening challenger leg in Dubai.

“The fans gave us motivation and extra drive when we were under pressure and that was fantastic; we want to thank all the fans who came out to support the team, this is for them,” he said.

Indeed, the Shujaa fans deserve all the joy that came with the win and the return to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series; they’ve been branded “the best in the world’ and the HSBC Series wasn’t the same without the energy and vigour of the Shujaa fan base.

Kenya’s star man in Madrid John Okoth, couldn’t agree more.

“It’s a very big motivation to us when we are in the field, it makes us feel like we are back at home with the fans.”

Okoth says a return to the big league will be a big boost for Kenyan rugby and its growth.

“We’ve been working very hard back at home, so going back to the HSBC Series is a big motivation for us. For the kids coming, it brings motivation into Kenyan rugby and Kenyan rugby will continue to grow.”

Having secured promotion back to the big league, Kevin Wambua and his charges entered Kenya’s rugby folklore and he couldn’t hide his excitement.

“Everything goes back to God; I give the glory back to God. I worked hard but without God, without His leadership we wouldn’t be here so I give thanks back to God and thank you for giving me this talent and the opportunity to coach such a wonderful team.”

It's been an absolutely majestic year for ‘Bling’ as he is fondly known in rugby circles. Since taking over, he has led the transition bringing on-board young talents, qualified the team for the Paris Olympics by winning the Africa 7s and finally punching their ticket back to the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series.

The heroic show in Madrid saw Kenya return to where they belong, and will face the best of the best as Wambua’s attention now shifts to preparing for the upcoming Paris Olympics slated for July 26 to Aug 11 2024 in the French capital.

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Spain Shujaa Kevin 'Bling' Wambua HSBC Series

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