A real piece of women’s rugby history takes place on Friday with the Africa Cup – the first ever official African XVs championship – and World Cup qualifier.
Test rugby has not totally passed Africa by, but in 15 years since the first test on the continent in 2004 there have been only 29 matches, and 18 of those have been clashes between Uganda and Kenya for the Elgon Cup.
Eight African nations have played in those test matches, but only three will be taking part in this purely invitational event.
While in a couple of cases the absence is understandable – women’s rugby in Namibia (only one test in 2013) and Rwanda (two tests in 2005) is still rebuilding – the failure to include Botswana, Zimbabwe or Zambia was something of a surprise, not least as they played four internationals in 2017 and 2018.
However, the unions did not apply for test status, the results were not included in the world rankings, which appears to be the reason for the teams’ non-inclusion, and given a lack of recent fifteens data it is reported that recent sevens form was used to decide the participants.
As a result the teams who are taking part are the hosts, South Africa – the only African team to have previously played in a World Cup – along with Kenya, Uganda… and Madagascar, who have no previous test record.
With greater financial, coaching and player resources, even without home advantage, South Africa would be the overwhelming favourites – although they have only ever played one previous test against African opposition, a 63-0 win over Uganda that was the qualifier for the 2014 World Cup. The Springboks have also been on two tours to the Europe since 2017, including three tests against Wales, Spain and Italy – all lost, but all competitive games.
Kenya – comfortable winners of the Elgon Cup against Uganda, and now higher ranked at sevens that the Springboks – could be a significant challenge, though they only reformed their fifteens programme after the announcement of the tournament, after a four-year break, and have consequently had only weeks to prepare.
In the four years since the Elgon Cup was suspended results suggest that Uganda have fallen behind Kenya, and with little time to prepare seem unlikely to improve on their previous performance against South Africa.
Finally, Madagascar, who have never played fifteens before, but have a good recent record in African sevens, fifth in 2017 and fourth in 2018. At this stage in their development they are unlikely to trouble the other three teams.
9th August: Kenya v Madagascar; South Africa v Uganda
13th August: South Africa v Madagascar; Kenya v Uganda
17th August: South Africa v Kenya; Madagascar v Uganda
(Kenya & Uganda: ¤¥; * - uncapped for both 7s and 15s; ¥ - capped for 7s; ¤ - capped for 15s)
Madagascar: 1. Voahangy Lalaina Hanitramalala (JSM); 2. Nanou Loula Razafializay (SCB); 3. Josiane Patricia Soloniaina (JSM); 4. Nomenjanahary Sarindra Sahondramalala (3FB); 5. Monica Rasoloniaina (FTVL); 6. Delphine Sarindra Raharimalala (FTM); 7. Sariaka Nomenjanahary (SCB); 8. Laurence Rasoanandrasana (SCB); 9. Vonjimalala Ranorovololona (3FB); 10. Voahirana Marie Sophie Razafiarisoa (3FB); 11. Tiana Jinah Razanamahefa (SCB); 12. Nantenaina Patricia Ravololonirina (SCB); 13. Farasoa Tantely Razafimahefa (3FB); 14. Claudia Maminiaina Rasoarimalala (FTM); 15. Fabrina Holiniaina (captain - FTM); 16. Hajalalaina Marie Josiane Razafindrafara (JSM); 17. Tikasoa Raholinirina (JSM); 18. Veronique Eluriche Rasoanekena (RCTS); 19. Tsiriniaina Bodonirina Ravololoharijaona (3FB); 20. Andoniaina Randrianarijaona (SCB); 21. Herizo Lydia Rasoarimanana (SCB); 22. Joela Mirasoa Fenohasina (assistant captain - FTM); 23. Marie Christine Bodonandrianina (FTFA); 24. Fenitriniaina Hanta Razafindramanga (FTM); 25. Ginah Christine Fihononana Raharimalala (FTM)
Head Coach – Lanto Nirina Ravoavahy; Assistant Coach – Dina Orleans Razafindratsara Manandraibe; Team Manager – Victor Lie Andriavelomanana; Team Doctor - Voahanginirina Vololoniaina Rasolomanoa
Uganda: 1. Faith Namugga (Entebbe Lady Swans) ¤; 2. Yvonne Najjuma (Thunderbirds) ¤; 3. Evelyn Aweku (Thunderbirds) ¤; 4. Charity Atimango (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 5. Winnie Atyang (Thunderbirds - captain) ¥¤; 6. Hellen Gizamba (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 7. Mary Gloria Ayot (Black Pearls) ¥¤; 8. Beatrice Lamunu Atim (Entebbe Lady Swans) ¥¤; 9. Juliet Nandawula (Entebbe Lady Swans) ¥¤; 10. Claire Anena (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 11. Harriet Kayonjo (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 12. Peace Lekuru (Entebbe Lady Swans - assistant captain) ¥¤; 13. Asha Nakityo Nabulime (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 14. Emmanuela Oroma (Black Pearls) ¥¤; 15. Samiya Ayikoru (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 16. Peace Mirembe (Black Pearls) ¥¤; 17. Christine Nakamya (Entebbe Lady Swans) ¥; 18. Irene Nzige (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 19. Christine Nakayiza (Thunderbirds) ¤; 20. Loy Mbabazi (Thunderbirds) ¤ ; 21. Teddy Iwutung (Thunderbirds) ¤ ; 22. Esther Tino (Mbale Eagles) ¤; 23.Joan Andika Mukoya (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 24. Odoyi Mary Kyoita (Thunderbirds) ¥¤; 25. Agnes Nakuya (Thunderbirds) ¤; 26. Rosenberg Kanyunyuzi (Thunderbirds)
Head Coach: Edgar Lemerigar ; Team manager: Racheal Babirye Kakaire; Physiotherapist: Nelson Mayeku
Kenya: PROPS; 1. Juliet Nyambura (Northern Suburbs) ¤; 2. Imogen Hooper (Northern Suburbs - assistant captain) ¤; 3. Everlyne Kalimera (Stanbic Mwamba) ¤; 4. Mercy Migongo (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤; HOOKERS; 5. Knight Otuoma (Kisumu RFC) ¤; 6. Staycy Atieno (Stanbic Mwamba) ¤; 7. Victoria Gichure (Northern Suburbs) ¤; LOCKS; 8. Millicent Opala (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤¥; 9. Bernedatte Oleisia (Shamas Rugby Foundation) ¤; 10. Enid Ouma (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤; BACK ROWS; 11. Emmaculate Owiro (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤; 12. Mitchelle Akinyi (Impala Ladies) ¤; 13. Leah Wambui (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤; 14. Janet Owino (Menengai Cream Homeboyz - assistant captain) ¤¥; 15. Naomi Amuguni (Stanbic Mwamba) *; HALFBACKS; 16. Irene Atieno (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤¥; 17. Veronicah Wanjiku (Top Fry Nakuru) ¤; 18. Vivian Akumu (Top Fry Nakuru) *; 19. Grace Adhiambo (Top Fry Nakuru) ¤¥; CENTRES; 20. Philadelphia Orlando (Northern Suburbs - captain) ¤¥; 21. Celestine Masinde (Stanbic Mwamba) ¤¥; 22. Sheila Chajira (Menengai Cream Homeboyz) ¤¥; BACK THREE; 23. Diana Awino (Impala Ladies) ¤¥; 24. Stella Wafula (Impala Ladies) ¤¥; 25. Christabel Lindo (Impala Ladies) ¤¥; 26. Janet Okelo (Stanbic Mwamba)
Head Coach - Felix Oloo; Strength and Conditioning Coach - Sam Njogu; Team Manager - Camilyne Oyuayo; Physiotherapist - Anthony Maina
South Africa: Alida Bernice Strydom (lock) - Boland; Celeste Adonis (lock) - Boland; Onaka Jita (prop) - Boland; Aphiwe Ngwevu (centre), Border; Lusanda Dumke (flanker) - Border; Snenhlanhla Shozi (fullback) - Border; Yonela Ngxingolo (prop) - Border; Aseza Hele (flanker) - Eastern Province; Sibabalwa Klaas (scrumhalf) - Eastern Province; Ayanda Malinga (winger) - Golden Lions; Maxine Engelbrecht (prop) - Griquas; Lindelwa Gwala (hooker) - KZN; Karthy Dludla (lock) - KZN; Sizophila Solontsi (flanker) - KZN; Tayla Kinsey (scrumhalf) - KZN ; Zinhle Ndawonde (assistant captain; centre) – KZN; Annique Geswind (hooker) - Western Province; Babalwa Latsha (captain; prop) - Western Province; Nomsa Mokwai (flanker) - Western Province; Sinazo Mcatshulwa (flanker) - Western Province; Vuyolwethu Maqholo (utility back) - Western Province; Eloise Webb (fullback) - SA Rugby contracted ; Rights Mkhari (utility forward) - SA Rugby contracted; Mathrin Simmers (utility back) - SA Rugby contracted; Zenay Jordaan (flyhalf) - SA Rugby contracted; Zintle Mpupha (flyhalf) - SA Rugby contracted
Head coach - Stanley Raubenheimer;