In Madagascar today one of the largest crowds to ever attend a women’s rugby international witnessed a big win for Sith Africa against Kenya, and victory for the home team against Cameroon.
Accurate attendance information is not easily available in Antananarivo, but reports suggest that up to 20,000 people attended the second round of the African Cup Division One today.
First up, Kenya took on South Africa. Have only lost by seven points to the ‘Boks the last time they met the Kenyans were confident, but were blown away by the South African’s first half performance.
The Lionesses were all out at sea as the South Africans ran riot with six tries, courtesy of a Nomawethu Mabenge hattrick, a brace from Libbie Janse van Rensburg and one each from Zintle Mpupha, Sizophila Solontsi and Chumisa Qawe.
The Women Boks led 34-0 at halftime as their resolute defensive performance and their opponents’ ball handling errors seemed to play into their hands.
A yellow card to Grace Adhiambo did not also help the Lionesses’ cause as the Boks capitalised on the numerical advantage to camp in the Kenyans’ 22.
The second half began scrappily as both teams sought to settle into a rhythm with the Kenyans in particular struggling to get out of their defensive half.
Amidst the tug and push between the two sides, Mpupha completed her brace of the afternoon, eight minutes after the restart, benefitting from some good interchange of passes between the Boks’ backs and forwards to make it 41-0.
Not to be cowed into submission, the Lionesses, however, fought back bravely in a bid for a first try and had the South African backs on the wall for a majority of the second half.
The pressure on coach Louis Koen’s side told when three of their players – Lusanda Dumke, Unam Tose and Mabenge – were banished to the sin bin at different points of the game for ill-discipline.
However, the Lionesses lacked the bite to penetrate the Boks’ defence and score a try.
With a minute to the end of the game, the wastefulness proved costly when Mabenge received the ball out-wide to dash and jump over the try line and with it, push in the final nail into the coffin.
Regardless of the result, captain Sheila Chajira was full of praise for her teammates, pointing out that they had fought gallantly from the first minute to the end.
“First of all, congratulations to South Africa. We put our bodies on the line…we gave our next game our very best because we want to be the best of the best. Our next game against Cameroon is a do-or-die and we will do all we can to win it,” she said.
In the second crowd the huge crowd were able to celebrate a win for Madagascar. The “Makis” defeated the Cameroon 30-10.
The Makis dominated their opponent throughout the match. At the end of the first half, the Malagasy were already ahead with a 15-10 advantage. Upon returning from the locker room, the Makis again showed their desire to win this match and get the offensive bonus point.
In the second half, they again increased the pace of the game. Claudia Rasoarimalala, Zouanah Fanantenana and their teammates, very much in legs on Wednesday, scored another 15 points, leaving no points to the Cameroonians. In all, the women's Makis scored five tries including one converted and a penalty kick against two tries for their opponent.
Madagascar is therefore in second place in the provisional ranking after this large victory against Cameroon and pocketing one more point for the offensive bonus. South Africa, future opponent of the Malagasy national team is already assured of playing a World Cup, beating Kenya 48-0. The latter is provisionally third and will play against Cameroon on the last day.
In order to place among the first two places of this CAN 2023, Madagascar must beat South Africa. A match that will not be easy for the Malagasy. But Claudia Rasoarimalala, captain of this Malagasy women's rugby union team is optimistic. "We are ready to get a victory against South Africa," she said at the end of the match at the microphone of Rugby Africa.