Amaitsa scores a hat-trick on his debut as Shujaa hammer Nigeria in Africa Sevens opener

Nygel Amaitsa during training at RFUEA Ground. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya Sevens kicked off their Paris Olympics ticket hunt on the front foot on Saturday after hammering Nigeria 34-10 at the ongoing Rugby Africa Sevens tournament in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The 2023 Rugby Africa Sevens are doubling up as the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifiers and Kenya Sevens have to win the tournament to get the sole ticket to France.

Standing in Shujaa’s way are Zambia, Namibia, and Nigeria in Group B, matches they have to win to qualify for the knockout stages.

Kenya got off to a perfect start after co-captains Tony Omondi and Vincent Onyala exchanged passes before the latter touched down near the posts for a 7-0 lead after Omondi’s conversion.

The West Africans would respond through Awobowale Olukolade who shrugged off the Kenyan defense to sprint to the try line from halfway the pitch to cut the lead to 7-5 after missed conversion.

Debutant Nygel Amaitsa of Strathmore University Leos restored Kenya’s advantage after an offload from Samuel Asati, another debutant, to give Kenya a 14-5 lead after Omondi’s conversion.

Onyala grabbed his brace after the hooter to give Kenya a comfortable 19-5 halftime lead. Omondi missed the twos.

In the final half, Amaitsa picked up from where he left grounding two quick unconverted tries to complete his hat-trick and Kenya leading 29-5.

KCB’s Festus Shiasi also marked his debut with a try after coming off the bench to extend Kenya’s lead to 34-5.

Nigeria grabbed their consolation try in the final minute after the powerful Awobowale shrugged off two Kenyan defenders to touch down as they lost 34-10.

Kenya plays Namibia at 1.50pm in their second match.

The winner will earns direct qualification to Paris 2024 while  the second and third placed teams to qualify for the final repechage tournament set for June next year where one more team will seal the final Olympics slot.

The top two teams (excluding SA) will qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Challenger Series which serves as a pathway to HSBC World Sevens Series qualification/return.


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