600 views | Akaolisa Emmanuel | July 2, 2021
Flying their flag proudly, Madagascar has finally landed in Kenya for The U20 Barthés Trophy which kicked off on June 26 at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium and will run until July 11, 2021.
Initially hit by travelling restrictions and closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rugby Africa was able to assist with sending the team to Kenya, while adhering to COVID-19 procedures and protocols.
Vying for this year’s African Junior Champion title will be defending champions Kenya, Senegal and now Madagascar. The fourth team, Namibia, was forced to miss the tournament as increased number of Covid cases in the country prevented them from travelling.
As a result of their withdrawal, one match was played on Saturday 26 June. Hosts and defending champions Kenya defeated Senegal 50 -3 in that encounter.
The remaining fixtures are as follows
3 July: Senegal versus Madagascar
11 July: Kenya versus Madagascar
The U20 Barthes Trophy symbolizes the start of three weeks of international rugby action taking place on Kenyan soil. Their men’s fifteens national team, Simbas will host Zambia and Senegal in the Rugby Africa Cup between 3 and 11 July while their women’s fifteens squad, Lionesses will play Madagascar on 3 and 11 July.
The President of Malagasy Rugby Union Marcel Rakotomalala said it would be the first time that three national Malagasy teams would be travelling together to participate in three competitions.
“We are extremely thrilled that three of our national teams will be proudly representing Madagascar in Kenya, and we are grateful for all the support shown by our host Kenya Rugby Union. This has been because of a lot of hard work, negotiation and determined collaboration with Rugby Africa to find solutions to travel challenges caused by border closures in Madagascar due to the pandemic. All three teams have been in camp, preparing for the tournaments and eager to play.”
Chairman of the Kenya Rugby Union Oduor Gangla said: “On behalf of the KRU, I wish to extend a very warm welcome to Madagascar Rugby teams on their tour to Kenya. We commend the Malagasy Rugby Union and Rugby Africa for doing all things necessary to ensure that the tour takes off and Madagascar is able to participate in both the Barthes Trophy and the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup.”
“Their actions embody the solidarity of the rugby family and we applaud them for their courage in continuing to play the game despite the levels of the pandemic. We look forward to their participation in making the international events a phenomenal success,” he added.
Sponsored by the Société Générale, The U20 Barthés Trophy is the only junior tournament in Africa where generally eight national U20 teams compete for the title. It is held on an annual basis and the winners of the competition earn the right to represent the African continent at the World Rugby Junior Trophy.
In 2019, Kenya hosted and won the competition, defeating the then champions Namibia 21-18. The team went on to finish sixth at that year’s World Rugby Junior Trophy tournament in Brazil.
In early 2020, Rugby Africa granted Barthes Trophy hosting rights to the Kenya Rugby Union for a three-year period until 2022.
Unfortunately, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition could not be held in 2020. At the time competing teams included Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Madagascar, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia.
This year’s U20 Barthés Trophy, however, will be a good preparation for Kenya – who automatically qualify for and will also host the 2022 Junior World Rugby Trophy at Nairobi’s Nyayo national stadium.
Saturday 3 July 2021
Kenya Lionesses v Madagascar- 1100am (RAC women)
Senegal U20 v Madagascar U20 – 1.30pm (U20 Barthes Trophy)
Kenya v Senegal – 4.00pm (RAC)
Wednesday 7 July
Senegal v Zambia – 3.00m (RAC)
Sunday 11 July
Kenya v Madagascar – 11.00am (RAC Women)
Kenya U20 v Madagascar U20- 1.30pm (U20 Barthes Trophy)
Kenya v Zambia – 4.00pm (RAC)