What you need to know:
- Kenya are 25th on the World Rugby Women’s Rankings with 45.26 rating points, while Madagascar are 28th on 44.89 points
- Kenya have fresh memories of two back-to-back defeats against Madagascar when these two sides last met during the 2021 Rugby Africa Women’s Series in Nairobi
- Kenya will meet South Africa on May 24 and conclude their campaign with a match against Cameroon on May 28
Kenya Lionesses will look to launch their Rugby Africa Women’s First Division campaign on a winning note on Saturday, when they face hosts Madagascar at Andohatapenaka Stadium in Antananarivo.
Coach Dennis Mwanja’s charges were scheduled to have their first training session on Friday evening during the captain’s run after arriving in the Indian Ocean Island on Thursday evening.
“We could not have a training session on Thursday because we arrived very late in the evening but we have been allocated a training session on the pitch on Friday evening. We have just had swimming pool training and other activities within the hotel as we wait for the captain’s run,” the former Kenya Sevens and Kenya 15s international told Nation Sport.
Kenya's game will come after the tournament’s opening match between South Africa and Cameroon and Mwanja has predicted an interesting encounter.
“We are looking forward to playing Madagascar. We will take a game at a time. Of course, they enjoy the home ground support, but we will handle them well,” added Mwanja who pointed out that his side was tactically better, and mentally prepared.
Kenya are 25th on the World Rugby Women’s Rankings with 45.26 rating points, while Madagascar are 28th on 44.89 points.
A win will improve Kenyan rating points to between 47.79 and 49.05 and put them one foot closer to the newly-launched World Rugby WXV.
Since every match is like a final in the four-nation round-robin competition, the Lionesses will hope to chalk up a win.
But, Kenya have fresh memories of two back-to-back defeats against Madagascar when these two sides last met during the 2021 Rugby Africa Women’s Series in Nairobi.
They lost 27-15 on July 3 and 10-0 on July 11 at Nyayo National Stadium with speedsters Veronique Rasoanekena and Sophie Razafiarisoa proving constant threats to Kenya.
Veronique is not in the current 28-woman squad, but Sophie is. Madagascar also likes a running game, so Kenya will have to be good defensively if they are to come out on top.
Some of the players to watch on the Kenyan side, include Japan-based Grace Adhiambo and experienced forwards Sheila Chajira, Enid Ouma and Mercy Migongo.
Kenya will meet South Africa on May 24 and conclude their campaign with a match against Cameroon on May 28.
The African champion will qualify for the second-tier global contest WXV 2, with the runner-up advancing to the third-tier of the same competition (WXV 3).
This competition is intended to revolutionise the women’s international rugby landscape, providing for the first time a meaningful pathway for all unions and a competitive springboard towards an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025.