The Madagascar women’s national side is in Nairobi and will play hosts Kenya women’s national side popularly known as the Lionesses over two weekends in the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.
Madagascar touched down in Nairobi on Wednesday evening and headed straight to their residential camp at Brookhouse School where they have been training in a bio-bubble environment.
The last time these two sides met was in 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. Kenya won the game courtesy of a 35-5 scoreline.
This time however, things are a bit different. Apart from the effects of the novel coronavirus and the conditions the game has to be played in, the Lionesses will be playing their very first international game since 2019.
On their part,the Malagasy ladies are pumped up and ready for the challenge. “We are in a good place, really well prepared for the two games against Kenya and we are confident in the training camps we have had back in Madagascar,” says their CaptainVeronique Eluriche Rasoanekena.
The Lionesses will use the two games against Madagascar as preparation for their Rugby World Cup 2021 pre-qualifier match against Colombia which will be played in Nairobi later this year. The winner of the game will then qualify for the final qualifying phase, the repechage.
They will however be missing key players for this game, including Captain Philadelphia Olando, who are part of the sevens team in the Olympics residential camp in Kasarani.
Veronique, however, insists that they will not let this little detail distract them from their target. “We know Kenyans are very physical and athletic. We have worked on our defense and it is razor-sharp,” adds Veronique.
When these two teams met in 2019, the Madagascar women’s national team was yet to taste international rugby action. They were also the least ranked team at the tournament but they will not let that deter them from winning come Saturday morning.
“We are well prepared to fight for our place in African rugby and it starts by winning the game on Saturday,” concludes Veronique.
Madagascar will take on Kenya Lionesses in an 11 am kick-off at the Nyayo Stadium in what has been dubbed “Super Saturday.”
– James Njenga/U20 Barthes Trophy Media Team