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Kenya take major step towards first-ever Rugby World Cup qualification

The east Africans pulled off an impressive victory over Namibia in Madagascar.

Humphrey Kayange, a nominee for IRB Sevens Player of the Year in 2009, scored a try against Namibia [file photo].
Humphrey Kayange, a nominee for IRB Sevens Player of the Year in 2009, scored a try against Namibia [file photo].

KENYA TOOK AN important step towards qualifying for their first-ever Rugby World Cup by beating Namibia in the opening round of the African Nations Cup.

Yesterday’s 29-22 victory over the Namibians, ranked 11 places above them by the IRB, means that if Kenya can secure wins against Madagascar and Zimbabwe in the coming week, they will advance to Pool C of the 2015 tournament alongside New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia.

Namibia came into the qualifying tournament as favourites, having competed at every World Cup since 1999 and being the top-ranked nation involved [they currently sit 22nd in the world].

However, inspired by sevens stars such as Andrew Amonde and Humphrey Kayange, Kenya showed how far they have developed by scoring four tries in Antananarivo. The sevens code has been vital to that progress, with Paul Treu’s side enjoying status as a core team in the IRB World Sevens Series.

In the other encounter of the opening round of the African Nations Cup, Zimbabwe got their campaign off to a strong start with a 57-22 win over hosts Madagascar. Currently ranked 30th in the world, three spots above Kenya, the southern Africans will now be hopeful of winning the tournament outright or at least finishing second.

The team that is crowned champion of the competition will qualify straight into Pool C of the England-hosted 2015 Rugby World Cup, while the second-placed side advances to take on Russia for a spot in the Repechage final.

That final would then involve playing either Uruguay or Hong Kong over two legs [home and away], with the victor qualifying into Pool A of the World Cup, where they would face Australia, England, Wales and Fiji.

Remaining fixtures at African Nations Cup:

  • Wednesday, 2 July 2014: Namibia v Zimbabwe; Madagascar v Kenya
  • Sunday, 6 July 2014: Kenya v Zimbabwe; Madagascar v Namibia

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Murray Kinsella

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