After picking the Simbas side of the decade it is only fair we share the Shujaa side, from a decade that saw us play in a world cup semi final, dramatically qualify for the first ever edition of rugby sevens at the Olympics and most memorably lift a first series title, in Singapore.
Like with the Simbas, the criteria remains the same, consistency over the 10 year period and individual impact, so here we go.
1. Humphrey Kayange (Mwamba RFC) – Since making his international debut in 2006, Tall grew to captain the side and become the face of the sport not only in the country but beyond our borders. An IRB Sevens Player of the Year nominee in 2009, he fittingly was part of the side that lifted that Singapore title and went on to represent the country at the Olympic games, having been part of the delegation that successfully lobbied for the return of rugby sevens to the Olympic games. We could go on and on about Tall, simply put he was as good on the pitch as he was off it.
2. Oscar Ouma (Nakuru RFC) – Oscar made his break sometime in 2010 and has blessed us with some memorable and monumental moments ever since, captaining the side to historical back to back cup finals in 2017. Who can forget that try against New Zealand at the Wellington Sevens, to take us to the cup final? Oscar has been pivotal for the side through out the decade.
3. Andrew Amonde (KCB) – I am quickly running out of superlatives to describe Asusu, he becomes the only player to make both our Simbas and Shujaa teams of the decade and rightfully so. Andrew started his sevens journey sometime in 2010, steadily rising to pick the captaincy from Tall and leading the team to its first ever title in the world series, before stepping aside in 2017-18, only to return as captain this season. Andrew has been the epitome of Kenya rugby in this decade and beyond.
4. Collins Injera (Mwamba RFC) – From one legend to another, the Chuchu train first fired up its engine in the world series in 2006 and has never turned it off since. Picking up the series top try scorer accolade in 2009, momentarily holding the title of ‘all time top try scorer’ in 2016, a few months after he had picked up the player of the final accolade in that Singapore title win. Injera who started out as a winger, makes our squad at sweeper, a position he has grown into during the latter years of the decade for both club and country.
5. Biko Adema (Nondies RFC) – I have a running joke with some of my friends, that I don’t believe that there is a day Biko ‘ataisha.’ Reason being when I joined Nairobi School, I witnessed Biko tormenting people for three years before we finally played him in our senior year, we beat him by the way. This decade found him already in the sevens side, having made his debut immediately after high school in 2007, he went on to become an integral part of the side through the period, only fading away towards the close due to injury.
6. Billy Odhiambo (Mwamba RFC) – He no longer is a kid, but in this squad, he fits that name perfectly, having made his debut in 2012 and taking the sevens world by storm. The ‘kid’ has been a nightmare to defences from centre or wing, by all indications he still has another decade in him. Back to back teams of the decade maybe? Let’s see if we’ll still be around.
7. Willy Ambaka (Kenya Harlequins) – If there has been a versatile player through this decade then it has to be Willy, making his debut as a winger in 2011, going on to make the 2012-13 series dream team as a forward and an IRB Sevens player of the year nominee. Since then he has had professional stints in the 15s code, from South Africa and France, before rejoining the Kenya 7s just in time for the win in Singapore and the Olympic games.
There you have it, as always your comments and picks for Shujaa team of the decade are welcome in the comments section.
KWISHA… NIMERUKA NJE!!!