Shujaa crowned Dubai Challenger Series champions as Lionesses claim silver

14th January 2024

The fast-rising Patrick Odongo scored the two tries that sealed the main cup title.

Shujaa. PHOTO| World Rugby
Shujaa. PHOTO| World Rugby
  • Shujaa edged Chile 12-5 to win the main cup final.
  • Lionesses choked at the final hurdle as they lost 19-5 against China.
  • The teams now shift their focus to the second 2024 Challenger Series outing in Uruguay from 8-10 March.

The men’s national rugby 7s team, Shujaa, are the 2024 Dubai Challenger Series winners after edging out Chile 12-5 in a closely contested final staged on Sunday 14 January 2024 at the Sevens Stadium in United Arab Emirates.

Shujaa took control of the game right from the start causing their opponents problems left, right and center.

Patrick Odongo, who was arguably the star of the three-day tournament, used his pace down the right wing to put Kenya ahead, Tony Omondi nailing the conversion to give Kenya a 7-0 lead.

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As the match went on, Chile slowly found their rhythm and their hard work was rewarded a minute before the halftime whistle when Benjamin Videla scored a try reduce the deficit to 7-5 following a missed conversion.

However, Odongo scored his second try of the match at the last moments of the second half to put Kenya 12- 5 ahead. 

Odongo’s try proved to be the final one of the successful tournament as Kevin Wambua’s side bagged their first title of the 2024 season as Shujaa finished the Dubai Challenge Series top of the standings with a total of 20 points. 

While it was jubilation for Shujaa, the women’s side Kenya Lionesses suffered a 19-5 loss in the hands of China to settle for silver in the women’s category.

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The Chinese players were in a class of their own as they exchanged neat passes right from the start.

Birthday girl Meiling Yan put the Asian nation 7-0 ahead a short moment after kick off before she touched down again in the fourth minute to bring the scores to 14-0

The Lionesses try came courtesy of Sharon Ouma who did a brilliant work to outpace her rivals to change the score board to 14-5.

However, Keyi Chen added the final nail on the Lionesses' coffin when she added China’s third try of the match and ensured his country clinch the gold medal.

Kenya finished second in the women’s category with 18 points, two behind the winners China with Argentina (16 points) finishing third.

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What the result means for Shujaa and Lionesses

The Challenger competition provides a clear promotion pathway to reach the pinnacle HSBC SVNS in 2025.

The top four placed men’s and women’s teams from the 2024 Challenger, based on cumulative series points at the conclusion of the third round will secure an opportunity to compete in the new high stakes relegation play-off competition at the SVNS Grand Final in Madrid on 31 May-2 June, 2024 where they will compete against the teams ranked ninth to 12th from HSBC SVNS 2024.

Four successful nations from this Grand Final play-off will secure their place in HSBC SVNS 2025, while the other four teams will compete in their regional qualification tournaments to earn the right to compete in the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2025.

Having won in Dubai, Shujaa need to stay in the top four to get a chance to advance to the playoff in Madrid. They have two more Challenger Series legs in Uruguay and Munich.

Lionesses on the other hand head to Uruguay and Poland for their final two legs.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger 2024 dates

Dubai, UAE – 12-14 January (men and women)

Montevideo, Uruguay – 8-10 March (men and women)

Krakow, Poland - 18-19 May (women)

Munich, Germany –18-19 May (men)