Kenya, ranked eighth in the world, shocked defending champion and Series leader Fiji 30-7 to win the 2016 HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.
The Kenyans raced to a 20-0 lead at half-time before Fiji’s Jerry Tu scored a converted try to bring the score to 7-20. However tries from substitute Nelson Oyoo and Frank Wanyama ensured Kenya their first ever World Rugby Series Cup victory. Kenya’s record-chasing star, Collins Injera, scored two tries in the final to close in on Argentina’s Santiago Gomez Cora (230 tries) at the top of the all-time try scoring chart.
“Beating Fiji makes it extra special, they are the strongest team and they are leading the Series, so getting 30 points against Fiji is simply amazing,” said Collins Injera who won the HSBC Player of the Final award and now has 225 tries on the World Sevens Series. “We started the tournament well on Saturday and we knew if we kept playing hard and minimise our mistakes, the results will come. Winning this final means more to me than the all-time try scoring record. The ultimate goal is to medal at the Olympics. This is definitely a step towards the Olympics, we need to keep building on this and improve further.”
Added coach Benjamin Ayimba: “Winning a tournament outside of Africa has never been done before. Given this is the first time, this win will encourage more kids in Africa to play rugby and now they also have more heroes to look up to. This is definitely a milestone for the whole continent and not just for Kenya.”
Earlier, South Africa beat Argentina 28-0 to win the third place play-off and move to second in the Series standings, just eight points Fiji. Samoa took the Plate final by coming from behind 14-21 to beat New Zealand 26-21 for the first time in 13 attempts, a run dating back to 2012. Scotland took the Bowl with 14-10 victory over USA, while Russia pick up three valuable series points after a 24-7 win over Wales in the Shield.
A total of 27,370 spectators attended day two of the HSBC Singapore Sevens to watch the world best 16 teams battle for crucial points on the eighth leg of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The Series now moves to Paris and London, before Sevens rugby makes its historic debut at the Rio Olympics this August.
“This is what the Sports Hub can bring us, truly world class events for the whole family, said Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. “It was great for the spectators and great for the players and I think it will inspire the next generation of rugby players as well. it was wonderful to see many people in costumes, it was a really sporting crowd. I’m looking forward to coming again next year.”
“Singapore is a special ground for Kenya, they did well in Singapore 10 years ago too,” said Low Teo Ping, Chairman of Rugby Singapore. “Kenya beating Fiji is a major upset and will make the Singapore Sevens remembered around the world for many years to come. We have a great stadium and the record turnout by the fans from Singapore and around the region proves that the Sevens is here to stay.”
Besides watching the world’s best players in action, spectators also enjoyed a thrilling Singapore Schools Under 14 7s final.
ACS Independent was the hot favourite having qualified for the finals by winning all 3 of the qualifying tournaments played in March and April, but it was Raffles Institution who took a surprise lead via a converted try by Spencer Wee after just 44 seconds. ACS star Matthew Lim equalised in the second minute as the two rivals headed into the break tied at 7-7. Lee Kai Si then gave Raffles the lead 12-7 a minute into the second half, but Lim scored the winning try which was successfully converted with less than two minutes for a ACS Independent victory.
Throughout the day, there was plenty of dancing in the stands thanks to entertainment breaks such as the Dance Cam, a performance by local band Shirlyn and the UnXpected and an in-stadium DJ dropping the familiar favourites and hit songs. Parents had a chance to catch the action while their children enjoyed themselves at the ‘Kids Drop Off’ zone where they enjoyed arts and crafts, a bouncy castle, the nerf gun challenge and other fun games.
Over at the ‘Fun Zone’, rugby fans young and old had a chance to be a ‘Rugby Superhero’ through the ‘Pass Like a Pro,’ ‘Scrum Like a Pro’, ‘Kick like a Pro’ and ‘Catch like a Pro’ challenge stations. The more adventurous kids experienced how it feels like to fly into the try zone by jumping with a rugby ball at the inflatable ‘Rugby Bungee’ and experienced how rugby players train by taking part in the ‘HSBC Rugby Challenge’.
The adults and the young at heart were not left out, as they had a chance to show off their ball handling skills at the ‘Passing Challenge’ which involves throwing a rugby ball through two sets of tyres, while the more strongers ones attempt to push a Volvo XC90 car in the fastest time possible to win attractive prizes. Over at the Official Merchandise booths, over 10,000 pieces of jerseys, t-shirts, polo shirts, mini and replica balls and other memorablia were sold over the weekend.
Following the conclusion of play, hundreds of rugby fans took the special bus service from the Singapore Sports Hub to the offical afterparty venue Clarke Quay for the ‘Music After 7’ rock festival to bring the HSBC Singapore Sevens to a successful conclusion.