Lady Cranes deliver Holy Grail at Safari Sevens

Lady Cranes 7s celebrate after winning the Kenya Safari Sevens for the first time. PHOTO/DENISE NAMALE 

What you need to know:

Dominant. Lady Cranes skipper Peace Lekuru put an icing sugar on a sweet cake by finishing as top try scorer and Most Valuable Player to underline her brilliance over the two days. 

Finally, it’s coming home! For over two decades, Ugandan sides have made the journey across the border for the annual Kenya Safari Sevens tournament.

None has managed to conquer the ‘noisy neighbours’ in the 26 years that the biggest 7s tournament the region has to offer has been held.

Just like they did when they qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009, the women broke that barrier in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Sunday.

On a soggy and wet Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) gronds, the Lady Cranes 7s held off Kenya 15-12 in a pulsating final to win the Safari 7s.

First half tries Agnes Nakuya and Lydia Namabiro plus another in the second from skipper Peace Lekuru did the trick for coach Charles Onen’s side.

However, this result was down to resolute defending. Coach Charles Onen’s team finished the game with six players as Rita Nanduga was sin-binned.

The victory was down to sheer guts. Uganda lost to Kenya 27-0 in the semifinals of the Africa Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship this year.

There is an even bigger driving force to exert a measure of revenge in chilly weather.

The team was reduced from 12 to 10 players following injuries on Day One.

Scrumhalf Sandra Lona Amoli was rushed to hospital on Saturday after being concussed in a collision with a Kenyan player during the pool stage.

 “They really wanted to win for Lona,” Onen said. “At least today she was able to come and watch her teammates.”

There wasn’t similar joy for their male counterparts even if the Rugby Cranes 7s earned their highest placing at this tournament.

The men’s side beat Germany 31-7 to clinch bronze. Last year, they were fifth, a best placing at the time.

Coach Tolbert Onyango, who named only four players from the team that played at the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens, will be pleased with the role youngster Roy Kizito as a finisher over the two days.