Winning starts on the road to England 2025 for South Africa and Madagascar

The Springbok Women beat Cameroon 55-0 and Madagascar delighted another big crowd in Antananarivo with a brilliant 29-22 comeback win in the first round of the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup 2024.

South Africa and Madagascar got off to winning starts in their bid to win the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup 2024 and qualify for WXV 2 and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025.

Reigning champions South Africa brushed aside Cameroon 55-0, while tournament hosts Madagascar came from behind to edge Kenya, 29-22.

Whoever finishes top of the standings after three rounds of matches will seal their passage to both England 2025 and WXV 2 in South Africa. The runners-up will compete in WXV 3 in Dubai this September and October.

Hampered by tournament-ending injuries to Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen and Samantha Els, the Springbok Women took time to get into their stride and fell short of the 87-0 win they enjoyed when they played Cameroon for the first time in last year’s competition.

Despite playing with the wind at their backs at Stade Makis, Louis Koen’s side could only manage three maul tries – all scored by hooker Lindelwa Gwala – for a 19-0 interval lead.

But things opened up after the break and they added six more tries to their tally, with left-winger Maceala Samboya joining Gwala in grabbing a hat-trick.

Replacement forward Vainah Ubisi and outside-centre Veroeshka Grain scored tries at the start of the second half as South Africa picked up the pace before Sambola crossed three times in a devastating 10-minute spell.

Eight minutes from time, replacement centre Aphiwe Ngwevu celebrated her return to the squad for the first time this year with a try from a quick tap penalty to make it 55-0.

The Springbok Women have now won all seven of the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup matches they have played, having swept all before them in winning the 2019 and 2023 titles.

Lady Makis produce stunning match-winner

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Women’s Rugby World Cup and WXV hopes hang in the balance after Madagascar avenged last year’s 29-20 defeat at the same venue.

That game featured three yellow cards to Madagascar but this time it was Kenya who were the multiple offenders.

Tries from Terry Ayesa and Diana Awino had helped to put the Lionesses into an early 12-0 lead, but the Lady Makis managed to pull five points back when number eight Naomi Jelagat was in the sin-bin, with winger Olivia Mamay Nirina Hanitriniaina crossing on the stroke of half-time.

Turning around 12-5 in arrears, Madagascar scored again within five minutes of the restart after some typically slick handling put scrum-half Joela Mirasoa Fenohasina in the clear.

Now restored to their full complement of players, Kenya used their physical advantage upfront to wrestle back the initiative, prop Rose Otieno crossing from close range at the back of a maul.

But Faith Livoi’s yellow card on 56 minutes opened the door for Madagascar again, and the Lady Makis did not need a second invitation to exploit the extra space, scoring two tries to take the lead for the first time in the match.

Centre Valisoa Erickah Razanakiniaina was the first to cross when she finished off a tap-penalty move instigated by Fenohasina. This time Tiana Jinah Razanamahefa was able to add the extras to bring the scores level at 17-17.

Laurence Rasoanandrasana’s try put Madagascar 22-17 up. It was a product of no little ingenuity and skill, the hooker receiving the ball back from a throw to the front of the lineout and bursting down the blindside without a hand laid on her.

Kenya replacement back Helen Achieng temporarily silenced the home crowd – which included the country’s president and first lady – when she wriggled over in the left corner to bring the scores level again. But a deafening roar greeted Madagascar’s fifth try deep into added time when brilliant interchange play involving openside Delphine Sarindra Raharimalala and Hanitriniaina led to the winger crossing for the second time. It was a score fit to win any match.

While South Africa’s win will not impact the World Rugby Women’s Rankings due to the large points differential between themselves and Cameroon, the win for Madagascar will result in a one-place gain.

The Lady Makis will get 1.1 points added to their rating, moving them above Belgium and into 26th place. Kenya will remain 23rd.

The next opportunity Madagascar’s huge following will get to cheer on their team will be on Wednesday for the second round match against Cameroon. South Africa take on Kenya in the other fixture.

Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now to be the first to hear about tickets.

Last updated: May 6, 2024, 11:13:49 AM
More News