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'Been a long 13 years': Retiring Sevens legend Ambaka 'happy' with career

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

Sevens World Series great Willy Ambaka has played his final match for Kenya, after they were beaten by Tonga at the Sydney Sevens on Sunday.


Ambaka, who has played at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and three Sevens World Cups, will go down in history as one of the all-time great Kenyan rugby stars.

Following the major news that Sevens legend Collins Injera was hanging up the boots, Ambaka took to Instagram to share a major announcement of his own.

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The 32-year-old revealed to his followers that now was the time to “pull the curtains on my International Rugby 7s journey.”

After more than 55 tournaments and 13 years on the World Series, the Sydney Sevens would be Ambaka’s last time in the famous red jersey.

Kenya didn’t win as many matches as they would’ve liked though, and Ambaka didn’t get close to the swansong that he probably deserved at Allianz Stadium.

Tonga proved too good in the ninth place semi-final on Sunday afternoon; as Ambaka said on Instagram, the result drew the curtains on his decorated career.


After walking off the field for the final time, and thanking the sea of Kenya fans at the North-West corner, Ambaka reflected on his illustrious 13-year career.

“I’m happy with what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved so far in my career,” Ambaka told RugbyPass. “I know this is not the end for me in rugby.

“Sometimes we plan our ways but God guides your steps and I’m just really with everything that has happened in my life so far.

“Right now is just holiday time first of all because it’s been a long 13 years. As you can see I’m already injured in one eye, also so many (other) injuries.


“Right now I’m just enjoying some time with my fiancée and everything and taking one day at a time but I just want to thank God.”

After coming off the field, the Kenyan players – including Ambaka – lined up in front of a vibrant sea of supporters.

These fans have been sensational across all three days, and made sure to thank their star players once again.

The Kenyan players, still tired and fatigued after their thrilling battle with the invitational Tongan side, watched on as the supporters sung and chanted for the players.

“It always feels good to be appreciated,” he added.

“We work so hard away from home with very little but all in all, we just want to say, from the boys and family back home, they always appreciate us and that’s what really matters.


“That keeps us going forward and everything, so we really thank God and we really appreciate every moment that we’ve had so far.”

One of the moments of the weekend though, which may have slipped under the radar, involved Kenya’s tough loss to New Zealand on Day Two.

There was plenty of feeling between the two proud rugby teams out on the field, but there was no shortage of respect off it.

The All Blacks Sevens huddled up alongside the Kenyan players at the start of the North-West tunnel, where captain Sam Dickson presented Ambaka with his own black jersey.

“Obviously Willy and Collins are retiring after this tournament, and we just thought what they’ve done for Kenya rugby and also African rugby and World Rugby and how they’ve represented for almost over 13 years now,” Dickson told RugbyPass.

“Just unbelievable careers and we thought it was just a nice little show of respect for what they’ve done for the game, and hopefully they cherish it.”


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