Kenya begun their hunt for a sport in the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup on the back foot after falling to European champions Spain 32-0 on Saturday in the WXV3 match played in Dubai.
The 2023 WXV is the first edition of WXV, a women's international rugby union group tournament for senior national teams organised by World Rugby
The competition will feature three divisions of six nations each, evenly divided across two groups.
With qualification for the expanded 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup in England a goal for Kenya and the other teams competing in the third level, every WXV3 match in Dubai is guaranteed to be meaningful.
However, Spain kept Kenya scoreless, and crossed the whitewash four times themselves, to open their WXV 3 campaign with a 32-0 win.
Any slight trepidation heading into the first meeting between these two sides was neutralised by Spain within two minutes when captain Cristina Blanco crashed over from a powerful driving maul to take an early lead.
The Spanish lead was extended soon after in a theme that lasted much of the game when number eight Maria Calvo showed her pace to dot down her side's second try of the opening 10 minutes with Amalia Argudo converting both.
Kenya grew into the game in the following 20 minutes and a strong period of possession stunted the Spanish momentum, with Argudo knocking over a penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking.
The European champions remained on the back foot in terms of possession, but added their third try on the half-hour mark with winger Claudia Pérez racing in under little pressure from the Lionesses defence following some slick handling in the back-line.
Kenya continued to push their opposition but Spain’s third try gave them stability to hold out for the remainder of the half.
In the early stages of the second half both sides seemed to neutralise any attacking threat coming from the opposition, taking almost 15 minutes for any scoreboard action.
The half's first try came when blindside flanker Vico Gorrochategui picked an excellent line through the Kenyan defence to race under the posts, with replacement Zahia Pérez adding conversion.
Pérez added a penalty to extend her side's lead as the game ticked into the final quarter but both sides' momentum was stunted as the teams began to unload their respective benches.
Spain continued to push for a fifth try, with their position 10 places higher in the World Rugby Women's Rankings powered by Capgemini showing as they kept the Kenyans scoreless throughout the game despite the best efforts of the Lionesses.
Despite the Spaniards persistent efforts, it remained a four-try victory for the European side.
[Additional reporting by World Rugby]