Collins Injera explains why Kenya suffered relegation from World Sevens Series

RUGBY Collins Injera explains why Kenya suffered relegation from World Sevens Series

Mark Kinyanjui 15:41 - 22.05.2023

The legendary 7s winger explains why Shujaa's indifferent form caught up with them.

Kenya 7s legend Collins Injera has explained why Shujaa were relegated from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series following a 12-7 defeat to Canada in Twickenham on Sunday.

Shujaa, who were a core team for 20 years, will have to wait at least 12 months to qualify for the series again under the new format where teams were reduced from 15 to 12 before the season started.

In an interview on NTV, Injera, who retired from professional rugby to take up a coaching role at Mwamba, meticulously explained the reasons Kenya’s indifferent run of form all season eventually caught up with them.

“We have thrown the young guys into the deep end. The transition, in my opinion, was not handled well because we do not have the luxury of teams like Fiji or New Zealand who can just say, ‘get these guys out, get these guys in’,” Injera said.

“Most of our players in Kenya started rugby quite late. Either when they joined high school or they finished high school. Some of them joined rugby in university.

“If you operate like that, you say remove these guys quicker and then put in seven to twelve new guys in the squad and send them out there, you will definately struggle because you need the senior guys to transcend the culture.

“What has been happening over the years is that we have guys who are supposed to be taking the senior level. Yes, we had the senior, senior guys like me, Andrew Amonde, and Oscar Ouma who were there for quite a while.

“There were then the guys that were coming through, the likes of Patrice Aguda, Michael Wanjala—the group of guys we completely wiped out—and you see, you bring in younger guys, suddenly there is this big gap that needs to be filled (that was not).

"There is no way that gap can be filled without the guys down there in the middle. When it goes steadily, then we definitely have a good transition, but when we keep the seniors then scrap off the middle guys and throw the new guys in, we will definitely struggle.

“Now, the senior most guys are the lines of Oyoo (Nelson) who were rookies in 2016. We accellerated them and fasttracted them to be seniors (when they were not ready).

“It takes time. People think it is plug-and-play. This thing is a process that takes time and you need to respect it. If you do not respect that process, you struggle! That is why we were inconsistent!”

In 2016, Shujaa made history by winning their maiden leg in Singapore under the late coach Benjamin Ayimba who passed on two years ago. The 36-year-old explained why the side was so successful during his days both as a player and as a coach.

“Benja was very big in culture. Teams do not function without culture,” he said, “Benja understood that as a coach,” he added.

“Even as a player, he was one of those who always championed player welfare and just the general culture of the team.

“When I came in as a rookie during that time we had guys like Allan Onyango, Dennis Mwanja, Lavin Asego and Humphrey (Kayange) who drove culture into us as the rookies–how you behave, how you carry yourself– .

“When you come into the team, there are things like initiation—as a rookie, you will always be the one carrying the boombox, you can never be late for practice, when there is a game, everyone has their role defined.

“There is a lot of nitty-gritties. Bottom line, the respect just cuts across–how a rookie behaves when a senior guy is there and how a message is relayed from the senior management down to the senior management.

“It is one of those things senior players drive and over the years, we have been losing a bit of that.That is why we are struggling.”