Kenya’s 28 -24 victory over Morocco in Casablanca on Saturday June 23 2018, is one of the biggest wins in the country’s rugby history.
For starters, Morocco has for decades towered over Kenya rugby. In fact Kenya has lost the last time Kenya played Morocco in Casablanca was in 2009 and Kenya lost 29-11. The previous encounter in Casablanca was also a resounding win for Morocco : by a score of 29-3. In between those two meetings Kenya had surprised Morocco beating 23-16 in Kampala.
Having ensured severe beatings the last time the two sides met in Casablanca, it would not have come as a shock if Kenya had lost again. The fact that Kenya was able to beat the Moroccans in front of their own fans shows how much progress Kenya has made in the past 10 years.
Secondly, the entire Moroccan team comprises players who live and play in France. Most play in the French third tier (Federale 1) while a handful play in the French second tier (Pro 2). Both are professional leagues. This is a starke contrast to Kenya players who all play amateaur rugby
These are players who were born in France, learned their rugby in France and have lived there and played rugby there under some of the best coaches, best facilities and best financed players. Once again this is atarke contrast to Kenya players who had very little rugby instruction during their formative years and play with below par facilities.
Kenyans utilized their speed to open the scoring on a nice backline move. The Moroccans responded with a refocused game on the fundamentals using their heavy pack to dominate the scrums and mauls and forcing mistakes from Kenya. .
However, as soon as the game picked up, and hand mistakes were fewer, Kenya became much more dangerous.
Moroccans will regret the points they left on the road during this first half. At the break, Morocco led 10 – 7.
The second half resumes on the same false rhythm of the first half with always a fight of all the moments in the phases of contact.
The Moroccans then scored again a try in strength following a scrum 10 meters from the goal line of Kenya. and Morocco led 17-7 and looked to be running away with the game.
Kenya then scored two lightning quick tries. The second was by Moses Amusala who completed Kenya’s pick-and-drive move and suddenly Kenya lead 21-17 in the 57th minute. Darwin Mukidza was sharp with his boot, converting all tries.
The intensity of the fight increases again and the contacts become very rough. If in the first half the locals dominated the scrums, in the 2nd half it is clearly the players from East Africa who take the ascendancy.
Samson Onsomu then collected the ball from the back of their maul to put through Tony Onyango on the wing to score their fourth try. Mukidza once again converted from a tight angle to stretch their lead to 28-17 before the Moroccans rallied to score and come within four points.
In the last 10 minutes, Morocco scores the test of hope, and the end of the match becomes stifling. Morocco progresses, but scarcely fails to register the try of the victory.
In the end, Kenya narrowly escaped a crushing defeat against brave Moroccans who fought with their weapons. The fight during this match left traces on the organizations of the two teams who played the last moments of the match to the mind more than on the physical. Kenya had to put up a tight defence to triumph for the crucial five points even as Edmund Anya was sin-binned for collapsing the maul.
At the final whistle, the Kenyans showed a measured joy, as their victory, although deserved, was difficult to conquer.
At the end of the match, Kenya captain Chenge Davis Musungu said he was relieved: “It was a difficult match, the Moroccans hooked us a lot and the fight was intense.” We made a lot of mistakes because Morocco put pressure on us. “
“We have to correct these mistakes if we want to go to Japan next year,” added the Kenyan team captain.
Hocine Arabat, captain of the Atlas Lions, who was aware of being close to the feat said: “We always need a winner and a loser, today we lost on details. But at the highest level, it’s the details that matter. We must now focus on the future and turn to the next game. “
“What an exciting match to finish this second day of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup! I am really satisfied with the performance of both teams, the quality of the welcome and the enthusiasm of the fans! African rugby is definitely growing, “said Abdelaziz Bougja, president of the World Rugby Africa Association, Rugby Africa (www.RugbyAfrica.com).
For Morocco, we will have to very quickly put this encouraging defeat behind them to prepare the shock of June 30 at home against Namibia.
For Kenya, it will be well recovered before facing Nairobi next weekend Zimbabwe.
“I think the match between Namibia and Morocco on June 30 is going to be really interesting,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, the founder and CEO of APO Group, the main official partner of Rugby Africa.
|Back to Kenya Rugby Page|