By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone – Kenya’s raw power in the Africa Women’s Rugby Sevens tournament, shone through, as they easily cantered to the title, beating Uganda 29-7 in a lop-sided final on Sunday.
The tournament attracted 10 countries, with Kenya starting as the favourites, after world powerhouse, South Africa pulled out at the last minute to prepare for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens. South Africa had won the last Sevens trophy in Kenya in 2014.
Kenya took full advantage of South Africa’s absence, as they stamped their authority during a well-organised two-day competition. The champions emerged from Pool A, which had Madagascar and Senegal, with the Indian Ocean islanders posing the greatest threat.
Madagascar started the tournament with a 40-0 demolition of Senegal, while Uganda accounted for Zimbabwe 20-7 in the Pool B game.
In Pool C, Zambia beat Morocco 26-22 in a closely fought contest. Kenya showed their might by walloping Senegal 41-0 before accounting for a physical Madagascar 42-0.
The only stalemate of the tournament came when dark horses, Tunisia and Uganda played to a 10-10 draw on the opening day.
On Sunday, Kenya conceded their first try of the tournament but still steam-rolled 42-5 past Zambia in the quarter-finals.
They went on to beat Madagascar 27-0 in the semi-finals, before their resounding victory over Uganda in the final.
Kenya’s victory meant they qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States. Tunisia finished third while Madagascar were fourth, Zimbabwe were fifth with Senegal taking sixth. Hosts, Botswana, managed a lowly seventh-place finish ahead of Zambia, while Morocco were ninth and the wooden spoon went to Mauritius.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe bemoaned poor preparations, as the team could only finish fifth, after three defeats in five matches.
Zimbabwe lost to Uganda and Tunisia on the opening day, before falling to Madagascar on Sunday. However, they recovered to beat Zambia 17-15 in the plate semi-final for fifth. They proceeded to beat Senegal 21-5. Coach Abigail Kawonza believes with the much-needed exposure and match practice, the girls can always do better.
“We lack exposure as we do not have much game time in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, we have to wait for this one tournament per year because of funding. But it’s priceless coming here and the girls are getting the exposure they need,” Kawonza told The Southern Times.
She said there is so much potential in Zimbabwe’s girls’ rugby, and the team could go far.