Kenya shock Fiji 30-7 for first World Series title
East Africans stun Fiji to win first World Series title
The final whistle blew at the National Stadium and immediately sparked off wild celebrations on one half of the field.
After all, it had been nothing short of a fairy tale.
The Kenyan players (above) formed a circle on the pitch, arms over one another, some with their eyes closed, as they sang in unison.
Kenya coach Benjamin Ayimba later revealed that his charges were singing a gospel, giving thanks after a stunning 30-7 triumph over series leaders Fiji saw them win the 2016 HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.
This was their first World Series triumph in 17 years and only the third time they had advanced to the Cup final of a leg of the Sevens Series, after two runner-up finishes in 2009 (Adelaide) and 2013 (Wellington).
So how did the East Africans stun the World Series defending champions? By being stronger, faster and hungrier.
It took Oscar Ayodi just 19 seconds to score the first try of the final and, with many of the 27,370 fans expecting the Fijians to respond, the Kenyans added three more tries to take a shock 20-0 lead at the break.
Fiji finally responded three minutes into the second half, but any hopes of a revival were emphatically quashed as Nelson Oyoo and Frank Wanyama crossed the line to complete a memorable weekend for the Kenyans.
"I'm ecstatic," a beaming Ayimba said after the final. "My pulse is still very high and it will take a bit of time before it sinks it, so I don't think I can really describe it.
"Anything can happen in rugby sevens these days and all the teams are playing very well.
"There's always an outside chance (to win) but, when you come out here, you come to win so when the opportunity presented itself, we were always ready for it."
Hailing it as a monumental triumph not just for Kenya, but also the whole of the African continent, Ayimba insists his side will be looking to make a similar impact at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
"This is big for Africa as a whole because, apart from South Africa, no other team have ever done it before," he added.
"Given it's our first title, we hope it inspires the kids to play rugby and it just gives them a lot more heroes to look up to so, for us, it's a major milestone.
"The target for Rio is always to win... We have two more tournaments to prepare and looked for better combinations, and see how well we can go from there."
The shock result also meant that the Fijians failed in their bid to make it back-to-back successes after winning the Hong Kong Sevens last weekend.
Graceful in defeat, Fiji coach Ben Ryan was effusive in his praise of the victors.
The 44-year-old Englishman said: "The better team beat us tonight… I thought they were incredibly physical at the breakdown, did a brilliant job in counter-rucking and also controlled the kick-offs in the first half.
"I thought we should have been a bit more pragmatic in the first half, but let's not make it what we did badly but what Kenya did well.
"It was a great lesson for us and Benjamin and those boys need to be congratulated... They've been around for a long time and deserve the silverware, so I am delighted for them.
"The boys are going to learn some lessons. but the big thing is that we're still going to get on that plane back to Fiji having extended our lead in the series."
Kenya shot up to seventh in the standings after their 22-point haul in Singapore, with Fiji extending their lead at the top to eight points over South Africa with two rounds remaining in France and England.
- 3rd-place play-off: South Africa 28 Argentina 0
- Plate final: New Zealand 21 Samoa 26
- Bowl final: Scotland 14 US 10
- Shield final: Wales 7 Russia 24
This is big for Africa as a whole because, apart from South Africa, no other team have ever done it before.
— Kenya coach Benjamin Ayimba
WHAT THE FANS SAY
TNP PHOTO: HARESH KUMAR
"It's amazing to watch our fellow countrymen play in this atmosphere.Being able to watch the national players play 'live' than on television is remarkable."
- Megan Williams (above, left) and Rebeccah Mclaren (right), 18-year-old English students studying at Tanglin Trust School
"The kids really had fun and the atmosphere was just amazing. It was a time for us to bond and it's a great opportunity for all supporters to be here for a common goal and that is to support their countries."
- Singaporean Sharon Koo, who took her son Ryan Lim and daughter Sarah Lim to the National Stadium to support New Zealand