Nigerian Rugby players, the Black Stallions

Nigeria Rugby Sevens Team, the Black Stallions missed qualification for Japan 2020 Olympics, but have earned automatic qualification for next year’s Africa Cup Sevens by finishing eighth in the edition that ended in Johannesburg at the weekend.

The Black Stallions participated in the competition for the first time since 2016 following a ban on Nigeria by World Rugby in 2017.

They entered the tournament as the last ranked team (14) and had to face defending champions Zimbabwe (1).

The Stallions were impressive all through the match leading 14-12 at half time. The match ended 24-21 in favour of the Zimbabweans but immediately took Nigeria into the championship top 8 spot being the best loser of the first round of matches played.

Seven matches were played early on Day 1. the seven winners plus the best loser (Nigeria) advanced to the Championship phase of the tournament while the bottom six faced off in the Trophy phase.

The Stallions suffered injuries to Samuel Akpabio in the first match and lost steam and depth. They later went on to loose to Zimbabwe again, Madagascar, Zambia and Senegal.

Nigeria were relegated in 2017 after a ban by World Rugby and had to play from the ground up for two years, beating Super 16 Champions; Niger Republic 59-13 in Niamey in August 2018 which qualified them into the Africa North Regional Sevens in Ivory Coast in September 2018 where they finished runners up (tournament’s best team) to earn a place in this year’s Africa Cup Sevens and also set up a 2023 World Cup Qualification match against Madagascar on December 1.

Kenya shrugged off Madagascar in the semi final before beating Uganda in the final to pick up their second straight Olympic spot. Zimbabwe beat Madagacar in the third place play off and earn a place in a repêchage tournament to keep their Olympics hope alive. South Africa did not take part as they have qualified for the Olympics automatically through last year’s HSBC Sevens Tournament

Final ranking Final ranking Africa Men’s Sevens 2019:
1 Kenya – KE
2 Uganda – UG
3 Zimbabwe – ZW
4 Madagascar – MG
5 Namibia – NA
6 Zambia – ZM
7 Senegal – SN
8 Nigeria – NG
9 Ghana- GH
10 Morocco – MA
11 Tunisia – TN
12 Côte D’Ivoire – CI
13 Mauritius – MU
14 Botswana – BW