Trailing 10 -22 at the interval, the Lionesses fell to a 15-27 loss to Madagascar in test match action at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday 3 July 2021.
The visitors were quick off the blocks, landing a converted try through the captain Veronique Rasaineka, and they soon doubled their lead when inside center Sophie Razaftirisoa went over the whitewash for a second converted try.
Kenya were slow to settle into the game, but eventually points on the board when they scored off the rolling maul, Dorcas Sinaida grounding the ball for the five pointer but Madagascar responded with a third try, Rasoanekena going over for her brace as they led 19-5.
A second unconverted try by Stacy Atieno for Kenya brought the scores to 19-10 before a Madagascar penalty gave them a 22-10 lead at the interval.
A third try for the Lionesses brought the score to 22-15, the team looking capable of mounting a comeback but this was not to be, Madagascar had the final say with Rasaineka’s brace to win the game.
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 the second match of the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup on Sunday 11 July at the Nyayo National Stadium.