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Team earns ticket to World Junior Trophy after close-fought encounter with Madagascar at home

By Alex Njue
Monday, July 12th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Kenya 15s rugby Under-20 players celebrate after winning the 2021 Barthes Cup at the Nyayo National Stadium yesterday. Photo/PD/ALEX NJUE

The Kenya Under-20 national men’s rugby team made the country proud when they beat Madagascar 21-20 to retain the Barthes Cup played at the Nyayo National Stadium yesterday.

Kenya head coach Curtis Olago and his captain John Baraka were elated by the boys performance that saw Kenya lead the match from kick off to win it despite a nervy last play where visiting Madagascar needed to slot in a conversion for a rare win over the hosts but a missed conversion sent Kenyan fans and players in celebration.

“It was not the kind of game we wanted to play. We did not play to our optimum but I am happy we got the win with boys who have a whole big career ahead of them.

I am glad we have retained the trophy and that was the core business here. My boys worked hard for this, they have not played in a stadium like this before but the experience counts,” Olago told People Sport.

Captain Baraka is confident the contingent will take their A game to world event having collected the sole ticket to the World Junior Trophy where in 2019 Chipu finished sixth in the competition staged in Brazil.

“We are not going to the World Junior Trophy event just to participate but to compete this time.

Coach Olago told us the last minute counts and we did not falter when we were needed to stand our ground.

Everyone gave his best shift in the match and that is an indication we can go to the world event and bring the trophy home,” said Baraka.

The captain Madagascar side Rakatonirina Setra was not happy with how his kickers missed their conversions and penalty as well as playing their game plan late in the match where a conversion would have dethroned the hosts.

“We picked up the momentum a bit late in the match but we gave our best but we did  not get the equaliser on time today,” said Rakatonirina.

 Chipu came into the match as the favourites having topped the three-team standings after claiming a 50-3 win against Senegal in their opener a fortnight ago, while Madagascar also condemned Senegal 34-3.

Alex Njue