Cape Town - Kenya booked their place in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on Sunday as they defeated Zimbabwe 19-17 in a thrilling final at the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens Olympic Qualifier at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.
They will join the Springbok Sevens team in representing the African continent at the international showpiece. The Springbok Sevens booked their place in the Olympic Games by finishing in second place on the log table at the end of the 2014/2015 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Namibia, who was coached by former Springbok Sevens assistant coach Vuyo Zangqa, meanwhile, scored a last-minute try against Madagascar to win the Plate final, while Botswana defeated Zambia 26-14 to win the Bowl final.
Kenya were in fine form from the outset and started the day with a convincing 41-0 victory against Madagascar to book their place in the Cup semi-final against Tunisia.
They continued to build on this form and secured a morale-boosting 42-12 victory against Tunisia, which cemented their place in the Cup Final.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, opened up the day’s play with a 31-10 victory against Nigeria and then defeated Morocco 26-0 in the Cup Semi-final to earn their place in the final against Kenya.
The final was entertaining as both teams tried hard to find gaps on attack, while defending solidly in an attempt to shut out the opposition. Kenya struck first with a try after finding space out-wide, and they took full advantage of this to touch down for a 7-0 lead. Zimbabwe, however, struck back soon after with a try of their own, but an unsuccessful conversion left them trailing by two points. Zimbabwe side-stepped their way through the defence once again on the stroke of half-time to take a 12-7 lead.
The teams continued to put their bodies on the line in the second half, and after several minutes of the teams trying unsuccessfully to force their way through the defence, Kenya managed to find space and scored a try under the posts. This put them 14-12 ahead. They had a few chances to extend their lead in the following exchanges, but instead Zimbabwe scored a long-range try seconds before the final whistle to sneak into a 17-14 lead. This lead, however, was short-lived as Kenya hit back with a try from their own 22m area to snatch a 19-17 victory at the death to qualify for the Olympic Games.