Kenya defeated Uganda in the final of the Rugby Africa men’s sevens championship in Johannesburg on Saturday to round off the tournament unbeaten and qualify for the Toyko 2020 Olympic Games.
An experienced Shujaa outfit outgunned the Rugby Cranes 29-0 at the Bosman Stadium with a commanding five-try display that saw them put the disappointment of last year’s defeat to Zimbabwe well and truly behind them.
“The boys played very well. We had a plan of how we wanted to play in this tournament,” said Kenya head coach Paul Feeney. “The players worked very hard throughout the competition. They trained for 11 weeks non-stop. So, I am very proud of them. We will take a break, then prepare for the 2020 World Rugby Sevens Series.”
Kenya, who eased past Ivory Coast, Senegal and Namibia on day one, reached the final with an emphatic 40-14 win against Madagascar, while Uganda edged out defending champions Zimbabwe 21-12.
Kenya captain Andrew Amonde scored the first try of the final, converted by Daniel Taabu, to give the pre-tournament favourites the lead and then Taabu converted his own try to put Kenya 14-0 up.
Jeffrey Oluoch crossed for Kenya’s third try and a late double from Oscar Dennis put the gloss on a win that ensures Kenya will compete at their second Olympic Games, the Shujaa having finished 11th at Rio 2016.
Uganda head coach Tolbert Onyango refused to be too downhearted after his side’s defeat.
“We finished seventh in the last Olympic qualifying tournament (2015 Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens),” he pointed out. “Today we finished second after falling short against a very good side. However, we have another shot at qualifying at the Olympic repechage tournament, so we will continue to work hard.”
Zimbabwe earned the consolation of a bronze medal and qualification for the Olympic global repechage tournament next year, along with runners-up Uganda, by defeating Madagascar 24-7 in the third-place play-off.
Kenya are the 10th team to book their place in the men’s competition at Tokyo 2020, joining hosts Japan, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifiers Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa and Argentina, Canada, Britain and Australia, who all booked their passage to Japan via the regional qualification route.
The last regional qualifier is due to take place in Incheon, Korea from 23-24 November.