Fri Jan 16 15:42:00 EAT 2009
Top of the tops
Collins Injera embodies Kenya’s success in sevens version of rugby on the International stage. With seven tries in the Dubai leg of the IRB Sevens World Series, he was the top try scorer thrusting him to global fame. He chats with TIM KAMUZU BANDA on life, rugby, and fame.
Buzz: When did you develop interest in rugby?
Injera: Football was actually my first love but when I joined Vihiga Secondary School, I changed to rugby. My elder brother Humphrey Khayange motivated me and has always been my role model.
How did you perform with the school team?
We were never really good and barely made it past the provincials because schools like Kakamega High and Musingu High had better teams. After completing secondary school, I followed Humphrey who was already playing for Ulinzi in 2005. The club wound-up I joined Mwamba RFC, which is my club to date.
What about Mwamba RFC?
We have done well, I believe. We are the defending champions of the Impala Floodlight and we won the Enterprise Cup in 2007 in the 15s. We have also won the Christie Sevens thrice, Driftwood twice, the Nakuru Sevens, and the Great Rift 10s.
When were you called to the national team?
I was selected in 2006 but I did not travel for that entire IRB Sevens World Series. I first travelled with the team in 2007 to Adelaide and I have been in the teams since then. We play in Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, US, England and Scotland every year.
What do you think has been the best achievement since you joined?
We are yet to win the main cup but we have done well to solidify ourselves as a top rugby nation. In fact, we have beaten all the big teams apart from South Africa (Springboks) and New Zealand (All Blacks).
What has been you best ever win?
It has to be our wins against England in Australia and the US. Before the match in the US (San Diego), the England players refused to share a dressing room with our team although this was what most teams were supposed to do. That was very unsportsmanlike but we revenged on the pitch by beating them. That was sweet victory!
You have made Kenyan’s success a family affair.
Not really (laughs). We just love the sport. My brother Humphrey Kayange is the national team captain and my younger brother, Michael Agevi, has been promising. He was in the Kakamega High School team that reached the finals in the International Under-19 category.
Do you guys draw inspiration from your father or someone in the family?
No. In fact, my father never ever played rugby. It is Humphrey who started and we all just followed his example.
Does your success translate to good pay?
You see we are not professionals; we are what you call semi-professionals. Things have improved and nowadays we get money that can sustain us. Virgin Atlantic coming onboard as sponsors has improved things. They have also introduced performance related bonuses.
How do you deal with the attention especially from women?
There is a lot of attention but with time, you learn to handle it and concentrate on your game.
If you were not playing rugby what would you be doing?
I have a diploma in mass communication from Kenya College for Communication Technology (KCCT) Mbagathi. My interest is actually public relations and it is something I intend to venture in to even as I play rugby.
In between the IRB Series, there is the world cup, what are your expectations there?
Yes, we play in the Sevens World Cup in Dubai in March. We are confident that we will do well. We want to at least reach the quarterfinals so we can guarantee automatic qualification in the next world cup. From the quarter-finals, it is anyone’s game. If anything, these are the same teams we play in the IRB Series.
What makes a good rugby player?
You have to be disciplined, train regularly which I do everyday and watch other teams matches especially the high-flying teams. You need to approach every match with a winning mentality but always respect the opponent.