When asked about the prospect of playing at Melrose in this year’s Sevens Tournament, the Kenyan stalwart commented, “The Melrose Sevens is a tournament that every Sevens player wants to participate in. It’s where the game of Sevens originated.” He states that he’s looking forward to meeting the squad, bringing his experience to The Co-Optimists, and being invited to participate at the home of Sevens rugby – even if he is feeling somewhat apprehensive about the potential weather conditions.
The Kenyan international, and second highest try scorer in Sevens history, was introduced to the game of rugby a bit later in life than his professional counterparts. It was in high school where Collins first picked up a rugby ball. Under the guidance of older brother, Kenyan Sevens captain Humphrey Kayange, Injera learned to love the game. His earliest rugby memory was reading about England’s triumph at The World Cup in 2003, where he had that (in)famous picture of Johnny Wilkinson posted up on his bedroom wall. He remarks fondly, “I want to be there, doing that one day”.
That day came just three years later, as he was selected to represent his national team of Kenya in the XV-a-side version. That same year, Injera was selected to represent Kenya at 2006 Dubai Sevens. Injera switched between both the abridged and longer version of the game regularly, but ended up playing Sevens solely as he felt that he, and Kenya, were more competitive at the shorter format. And competitive they certainly are! Injera was the top try scorer for 2008–09 IRB Sevens World Series season with 42 tries, scored 210 points, and finishing second in the individual points table. Kenya reached the semi-final of the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The accolades just kept piling up for Injera. A career spanning an impressive 242 matches and counting – numerous records tumbling in his wake – none more notable than when he became the all-time try scorer in rugby sevens after his brother sent him over the line in London in 2016 with his parents in attendance. "It was a huge thing -- getting it with my brother, who was mentoring me a lot, telling me what to do and what not to do. It's a special moment for me, happening at Twickenham." Another memory that Injera recalls with great fondness is the 2016 Singapore Sevens final. The Kenyans romped to victory over the favourites Fiji by 30 points to 7. This was after previous instances of heartache bought on by making the final on numerous occasions, but just not quite getting over the line.
The successes of the Kenyan national side has instilled a new rugby culture in Kenya. The sport was originally just played in major cities, but smaller towns across the nation started taking part in our beautiful game. It was broadcast on major Kenyan television networks, allowing fans access to the games. Injera states that one just has to look at the Kenyan fans during any event at The HSBC World Series to see the intensity and love for they have for the game.
Injera loves the fact that he gets to experience different cultures, different experiences with a group of like-minded individuals that eventually become like family. He’s travelled the world with the Kenyan national side – reveling in the rugby culture that surrounds New Zealand, the party atmosphere that is Las Vegas and the intensity of the fans in Hong Kong. The Kenyan states that Scotland is a place cemented in rugby folklore. The rugby culture is second to none. The players are resilient and have a never-say-die attitude. The fans are passionate and unresolving. All of these remind him of the rugby culture back home in Kenya, and as such there is a healthy respect between the two nations, and certainly between him and the Scottish rugby fans.
Watch Collins and the rest of The Co-Ops light up The Greenyards this April as they look to replicate the success of our 1993 squad and lift the prestigious 1883 Centenary Cup. Tickets available at https://melrose7s.co.uk/tickets/