Kenya Lionesses suffered a shock 27-15 defeat in the hands of Madagascar in their first of two Rugby Africa Women’s Cup played at the Nyayo Stadium on Saturday 3 July.
Madagascar arrived in the country on the evening of Wednesday 30 June with the aim of winning both matches and improving on their World Rugby ranking.
The win came as a surprise to many including the Makis Head Coach Rafalimanana Joseph Berthin. “The win came as a surprise to all of us; we know the history of the Kenyan team and their profile. They are more physical and athletic and that is why the win against them was surprising.”
The last time these two sides met Kenya ran out 35-5 winners in the opening fixture of a Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament that also doubled up as the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup. The tournament was held in South Africa in August of 2019.
Berthin believes that the only difference between then and now is how they interact as a team. “Since that loss we have become more of a family. We are close-knit and the players play for each other,” says Berthin.
In most African nations, the sevens teams, and the fifteens teams are more intertwined and Madagascar is no different. Their sevens team qualified for the Olympics repechage in Monaco last month but did not qualify for the global showpiece set to be held in Tokyo, Japan later this month.
“Our failed Olympics qualification sparked some sort of a competition between the sevens team and the fifteens team. What we are seeing is the fifteens team trying as much as they can to reach the same heights as the sevens team did in Monaco,” adds Berthin.
Madagascar will now look to make it two out of two when they take on the Kenya Lionesses in the second match of the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup on Sunday 11 July at the Nyayo National Stadium.