Experienced forwards Sheila Chajira, Enid Ouma and Mercy Migongo return to the Lionesses squad that will do duty at the Rugby Africa Women’s First Division Competition in Madagascar between 18th and 29th May 2023.
Chajira, who has been handed the captaincy, returns for the first time since the South Africa – Kenya clash in Stellenbosch in August 2021 and is one of 11 changes made by Head Coach Dennis Mwanja from the squad that won the 2022 Rugby Africa Women’s Pool B tournament in Kampala, Uganda.
The other changes are Ouma, Migongo, Diana Awino, Valentine Atieno, Nelly Chikombe, Lewin Mwevezi, Mercy Migongo, Sinaida Mokaya, Hellen Anyango, Mitchelle Akinyi and Freshia Oduor,
Commenting on the squad’s selection, Mwanja, a former Kenya Sevens and Fifteens international, said, ““We are quietly confident as we look at a bright future for the Lionesses. We want to take our sport at the top level of rugby because for so long we have fallen short and almost been there.”
“We have our work cut out and have picked a team that is full of youth and experience with the cornerstone being discipline, commitment and also the belief in having players with the right attitude to play”, he added.
“This team will carry the mantle for Kenya and it is a competition that we have picked the best factoring on consistency. We are excited about going to Madagascar and playing and we are confidently dreaming as we look forward to the upcoming fixtures,” concluded Mwanja.
The Lionesses start their campaign with a clash against hosts Madagascar on 20 May before playing South Africa on 24 May. They conclude their campaign with a match against Cameroon on 28 May.
The winner of this tournament will qualify for the second tier of the newly launched World Rugby WXV with the runner up qualifying for the third tier of the same competition which is intended to revolutionize the women’s international rugby landscape, providing for the first time a meaningful pathway for all unions and a competitive springboard towards an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025.
Lionesses squad to Madagascar
Sheila Chajira (Captain), Enid Ouma, Judith Okumu (Vice Captains), Rose Otieno, Evelyne Kalemera, Natasha Emali , Knight Otwoma, Bernadette Olesia, Hesla Khisa, Phoebe Akinyi, , Diana Kemunto, Grace Adhiambo, Ann Goretti, Jean Bisela, Maureen Muritu, Stellah Wafula, , Winnie Owino, Naomi Jelagat, Terry Ayesa, Diana Awino, Valentine Atieno, Nelly Chikombe, Lewin Mwevezi, Mercy Migongo, Sinaida Mokaya, Hellen Anyango, Mitchelle Akinyi, Freshia Oduor
HEAD COACH: Dennis Mwanja ASSISTANT COACH: Paul Murunga CONDITIONING COACH: Geoffrey Onyango TEAM MANAGER: Camilyne Oyuayo PHYSIO: Levis Kituyi