Rugby Rugby

Shujaa wind up successful Series campaign

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Kenya celebrate the Challenge Trophy win over Wales on day two of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London on 3rd June, 2018. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11- It wasn’t the most perfect of ways to end the season picking up only three points off the ultimate leg of the World Sevens Series in Paris, but it wasn’t enough to remove the glamour off Shujaa’s performance this season.

Shujaa picked up a paltry three points after a slim 21-20 win over Scotland in the 13th place final.

The team narrowly missed out on the Cup Quarters despite 22-19 and 24-10 wins over Fiji and Samoa respectively in the group, having started off with a 24-5 loss against New Zealand.

Innocent Simiyu’s charges broke the 100-point mark in the World Series for the first time ever, finishing the 10 legs with 104 points and eighth overall in the standings.

Apart from that momentous achievement, Shujaa also earned the season’s Fair Play prize from World Rugby and skipper Oscar Ouma was named in the entire circuit’s ultimate dream team.

It was a pre-season target for Shujaa to finish the season above 100 points, beating their previous record of 99 points gathered in the 2012/2013 season under British coach Mike Friday. This, they achieved in the penultimate leg of the season in London.

Of the 10 legs of the season, Shujaa have only failed to get out of the groups on three occasions in Cape Town, London and Paris. They picked three each in Cape Town and Paris and managed eight in London where they won the Challenge Trophy.

Also, for the first time in history, the team managed to get into back to back finals, losing on both occasions in Vancouver and Hong Kong to Fiji. The remaining four times, they were eliminated in the Cup Quarters.

Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu is confident that Minjire and Lugonzo add a new dimension to the team’s formation. He was speaking on march 28, 2018 as he unveiled the squad for the April tour. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The performance of the team sees head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu prove his doubters wrong as he took the team into new standards with improved performance, something he says was down to a better pre-season.

In his first season in charge, Shujaa finished a dismal 12th with 63 points and they have marked a 40 point improvement coming into the new season. Also, the tactician has exposed a number of young players into the world stage.

Some of the players who have tasted World Series action under Simiyu include Erick Ombasa and Sam Muregi as well as Herman Humwa who went on to prove their mettle.

The season has also seen the resurgence of legend Collins Injera who has been a core figure of the side throughout the season, flourishing in all the roles he has been handed including being drifted to play-making duties away from his preferred wing position.

The team will now shift its attention to the Sevens World Cup to be held in San Francisco, United States in July and they will hope to do better than their fourth place finish during the last edition in Moscow in 2013.

Shujaa performance

Dubai: Cup Quarters (7th) 10pts

Cape Town: 13th – 3pts

Sydney: Cup Quarters (7th) 10pts

Hamilton: Cup Quarters (6th) 12pts

Las Vegas: Cup Quarters (7th) 10pts

Vancouver: Cup Final (2nd) 19pts

Hong Kong: Cup Final (2nd) 19pts

Singapore: Cup Quarters (7th) 10pts

London: 9th – 8pts

Paris: 13th – 3pts

Season Tally: 104pts

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