South Africa have won the African Olympic qualifier in Tunisia - but it will be Kenya that will go to the Games after SASCOC confirmed prior to the competition that the 'Boks would not be allowed to attend.
Photo: Rugby Afrique
South African are African Sevens champions for the seventh time (or eighth, if the win by their "Emerging South Africans" team in 2007 is counted), beating Kenya in the final for the sixth time - but the game as far closer than in any previous year.
As expected, Kenya and South Africa raced through their pools on day one without conceding a point, playing at a different level to the opponents. What was less expected was the was the performance of Madagascar, who topped Pool C with some big wins, plus an exciting 14-7 victory over hosts Tunisia (a team that proved a challenge to Spain).
But perhaps the most impressive performance was from Ghana, in their first RA Championship after 10 years away from international rugby, who learnt from every game. Although well beaten by Kenya in their opening game, 36-0 was no disgrace against the continental champions and former World Series team. They followed this with a narrow 10-17 loss to Senegal – and then managed to win all of their final three games to lift the Challenge trophy with wins over Botswana, Mauritius and Zambia.
The quarter-finals on day two resulted in comfortable wins for Kenya, South Africa, Madagascar and Tunisia – who are clearly the continent’s top four – ensuring that all four would go home with a reward from the weekend.
South Africa and Kenya’s semi-final wins confirmed that – even before the final (due to South Africa not prevented from going to the Olympics by their national Olympic organisation) – Kenya would be in Tokyo, they and South Africa would be at the World Series qualifier, and Madagascar and Tunisia would take part in the Olympic repecharge.
Madagascar took bronze with a second win over Tunisia, this time just 5-0, thanks to an superb second half defensive performance.
With everything decided prior to the game, the final was a strangely subdued affair with Kenya leading 14-10 at halftime, only for a third South African try to steal the win with less than two minutes to go.
Pool A: Senegal 19-10 Botswana; Kenya 36-0 Ghana; Senegal 17-10 Ghana; Kenya 49-0 Botswana; Botswana 10-12 Ghana; Kenya 36-0 Senegal
Pool B: Zimbabwe 12-7 Zambia; Uganda 0-32 South Africa; Zimbabwe 0-31 South Africa; Uganda 15-10 Zambia; Zambia 0-36 South Africa; Uganda 10-5 Zimbabwe
Pool C: Madagascar 34-0 Morocco; Tunisia 38-0 Mauritius; Madagascar 41-0 Mauritius; Tunisia 31-0 Morocco; Morocco 41-0 Mauritius; Tunisia 7-14 Madagascar
Quarter-Final: South Africa 42-0 Morocco; Madagascar 24-5 Senegal; Uganda 0-33 Tunisia; Kenya 36-5 Zimbabwe
9th-12th Place Semi-Final: Ghana 29-10 Mauritius; Zambia 24-5 Botswana
5th-8th Place Semi Final: Morocco 12-17 Senegal; Uganda 7-0 Zimbabwe
Semi-Final: South Africa 29-0 Madagascar: Tunisia 0-19 Kenya
11th Place Match: Mauritius 17-22 Botswana
9th Place Match: Ghana 21-14 Zambia
7th Place Match: Morocco 22-12 Zimbabwe
5th Place Match: Senegal 5-12 Uganda
3rd Place Match: Madagascar 5-0 Tunisia
Final: Kenya 14-15 South Africa