The world Tuesday celebrated celebrated Kenya Sevens legend Collins Injera, saying his legacy will remain for eternity.
Injera, 36, who is currently the second highest try scorer in the World Rugby Sevens Series and the 2016 Singapore Sevens player of the final, hanged his boots after a glittering career spanning two decades.
Former Kenya Sevens team coach Mike Friday, former Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairmen Mwangi Muthee and Richard Omwela, and KRU Director of Rugby Thomas Odundo, who is also a former Kenya Simbas head coach, celebrated Injera as a rare rugby gem.
Former Kenya Simbas captain Brian Nyikuli and Sports Dispute Tribunal chairman John Ohaga also paid glowing tribute to the star.
“It was a pleasure to hunt with you Collo and you made Kenya proud. You have earned it. Enjoy the next chapter,” said Friday, who handled Kenya Sevens in 2012.
Muthee said that he is shocked that Injera can retire a bit early saying players like Fijian legend Waisale Serevi played longer for their teams.
“However, it’s a personal decision and I wish him all the best in his new life,” said Muthee, who described Injera as a thoroughbred rugby player.
“This is one of Mwamba’s players, who became Kenya’s best export to the world of sevens.”
Muthee said upcoming athletes are now a role model to emulate since Injera gave everything on the pitch for the country.
“What great player the world had in Injera!” said Omwela, adding that his try-scoring skills was not an accident.
“There reached a time during matches when you felt that Injera was the only hope and he never disappointed,” said Omwela, who singled out the 2016 Singapore Sevens semi-final where Injera sunk a 40 metres penalty against Argentina to win 15-12 to send Kenya to the final where they beat Fiji 30-7.
Injera won the Player of the Final, the first accolade by a Kenyan player in the series.
Omwela said Injera’s world respect was seen when he was received like a King in Fiji two weeks ago where he was inducted in the country rugby Hall of Fame.
“I do hope he stays in rugby to mentor upcoming players just like his elder brother Humphrey Kayange, who is at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) Board.
Odundo, who handed Injera his first Kenya Simbas game in 2005, said the father of three has been a great servant of the game, scaling heights he never imagined.
“I first fielded Collins in possibly some of the hardest matches any Kenyan has played – against the Southern Spears in South Africa,” said Odundo.
“The trip was an eye opener for many of us, both coaches and players.”
Odundo said that he believes Injera took the lessons from that trip to become what he is today, always a fast learner and quick in adapting.
“I must admit it has been a pleasure donning the jersey alongside you and against you. Standing ovation for all you have done for this great nation brother,” said Nyikuli, who also retired in December 2021.
“Everything must come to an end, sometime. I have always said that I will know it’s time, because my body will tell me,” said Injera, Kenya’s all-time World Rugby Sevens Series top try scorer and second highest try scorer at the World Sevens Series with 279 tries.
Injera said it has been hard for him after 17 years of literal blood, sweat and tears to finally step away from this great game that has given him more than he could ever ask for.
“For the past few months, it has really ‘spoken’ to me so, finally, I have decided to listen to it.”
Injera played his first match for Kenya Simbas against Southern Spears in South Africa in 2005 and made his last appearance with the 15s team at the Repechage Rugby World Cup Final qualifying tournament against Hong Kong on November 11, 2022 in France.
He first featured for Kenya Sevens in the 2005/2006 World Rugby Sevens Series leg of Hong Kong with his last assignment coming during the Rugby World Cup Sevens in September last year in Cape Town, South Africa.
Injera was the highest try scorer during the 2008/2009 World Rugby Sevens Series with 42 tries, a feat that saw him nominated for the 2008/2009 World Rugby Sevens Series Player of the Year award, which was eventually won by Ollie Philips from England.
The late President Mwai Kibaki would later bestow Injera alongside his brother Kayange with Order of the Golden Warrior (OGW) in 2010.
During the London leg of the 2014/2015 World Rugby Sevens Series, Injera marked his 200th try in Kenya Sevens’ 24-12 win against Japan in the Bowls quarter-finals by signing a ball, and camera lens worth Sh 11 million.
Then came that moment again during the London leg of the 2015/2016 World Rugby Sevens Series where Injera achieved a major milestone by becoming the highest try scorer in the Series, surpassing the previous record of 230 set by Argentina’s Santiago Gomez Cora.
Kayange set him up for his 231st try in the dying seconds of Kenya’s 29-12 defeat by France.
Injera sank to his knees and looked to the gray skies above Twickenham, before running off the field to celebrate with his parents watching proudly in the stands.
Injera paid tribute to his wife Chebet and kids; Chloe, Clyde, and Carl for the love, support and understanding they gave him all these years alongside his parents and brothers Humphrey Kayange and Michael Agevi.
“To all my teammates, coaches, management and opponents, thank you all for the memories we have created both on and off the field,” said Injera.
“Thank you for being part of my journey and helping me achieve my dreams.”
Injera said in his next chapter, he will continue with his humanitarian work and will be joining global satellite business Avanti Communications, a UN Sustainable Development Goals Quality Education Partner, in an exciting new role to support its East African operations.
-The 2008/2009 Adelaide Sevens Cup finalist
-The 2008/2009 World Rugby Sevens Series (WR) top try scorer (42 tries)
-The 2008/2009 WR Series Player of the Year nominee
-The 2009 Sports Personality of the Year winner
-Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) 2010
-The 2016 Singapore 7s Cup winner
-The 2018 Vancouver 7s Cup finalist
-The 2018 Hong Kong 7s Cup finalist
-World Cup 2009 (Cup semi-finalist), 2013 (Cup semi-finalist), 2018, 2022
-Commonwealth Games 2010, 2014, 2018
-Olympic Games 2016, 2020
-Inducted in Fiji Sevens Rugby Hall of Fame 2023
-WR Series second all-time try scorer with 279 tries
– WR Series ninth all time points scorer with 1443 points
-Multiple Safari 7s winner