Kenya Lionesses lifted their first Rugby Africa Women Sevens Cup title after they went past Uganda 29-7 in the final match of the tournament in Gaborone, Botswana.
In the final, Kenya led 22-0 at half time through a brace of tries from the duo of Michele Omondi and Janet Akello. An extra try after the break and one back for Uganda set up the final score and the victory for Kenya who are now the African Champions for the first time.
It had been an easy run to the final for the Kenyans whose closest match was their 27-0 win over Madagascar in the semi-finals. Again Michelle Omondi and Janet Akello were key, helping their team race to a 22-0 halftime lead.
Since its inception, South Africa had dominated on the title, and Kenya had lost in the last four consecutive finals to them. However South Africa opted out of this year's edition “to prepare for the upcoming Women's Rugby World Cup” – a remarkable decision would appear to exclude from any chance of qualifying for the World Series until after the next Olympics.
The Lionesses topped pool A of the tournament without defeat or conceding a single try, seeing off Senegal 41-0 before giving Madagascar an almost similar score 42-0 to land into the knockout rounds. They proceed with in similar vein in the last eight going past Zambia 41-7 before ending Madagascar’s run.
Fellow finalists Uganda started their chase for the title with a 22-0 win over Zimbabwe and followed it up with a 10-10 draw with Tunisia in pool B.
In Sunday’s quarter-finals they beat Senegal 12-5 to meet Tunisia, this time in the semis. Deadlocked at 5-5 in the first half, Uganda went on to find the winning try in the next half to book the Lionesses in the final in a game they went on to claim silver.
The other results went largely with the seedings. Tunisia took bronze with a 22-7 win over Madagascar, and Zimbabwe ended fifth beating Senegal 19-5.
Hosts Botswana beat Zambia 12-5 to finish seventh, having drawn 5-5 on the first day, and Morocco beat Mauritius in three games to take ninth.
World Series qualification
Although the process for qualifying for the 2019/20 series has not been formally confirmed by World Rugby, if it follows that for previous years is followed, Kenya and Uganda will now represent Africa in the next year’s qualifier. South Africa (runners up in the qualifier for the last two years) will not take part and so will not be able to qualify for the World Series until at least 2020/21 - after the next Olympics.
Pool 1: Madagascar 40-0 Senegal; Kenya 41-0 Senegal; Kenya 42-0 Madagascar
Pool 2: Uganda 20-7 Zimbabwe; Tunisia 31-7 Zimbabwe; Tunisia 10-10 Uganda
Pool 3: Morocco 22-26 Zambia; Botswana 15-10 Mauritius; Botswana 5-5 Zambia; Morocco 24-5 Mauritius
Quarter-Final: Kenya 43-7 Zambia; Botswana 0-36 Tunisia; Uganda 12-5 Senegal; Madagascar 24-5 Zimbabwe
9th Place playoffs: Morocco 17-7 Mauritius; Morocco 26-5 Mauritius
5th-8th Semi Finals: Zimbabwe 17-15 Zambia; Botswana 10-22 Senegal
Semi-Finals: Kenya 27-0 Madagascar; Uganda 10-5 Tunisia
7th Place Match: Botswana 12-5 Zambia
5th Place Match: Zimbabwe 19-5 Senegal
3rd Place Match: Madagascar 7-22 Tunisia
Final: Kenya 29-7 Uganda