The Black Stallions of Nigeria have galloped their way up the latest Rugby Sevens ranking, climbing a staggering 13 places. Rugby Africa, the governing body for rugby on the continent, released the new ranking, which sees the Black Stallions rise from 24th in Africa to an impressive 11th.
This remarkable achievement comes on the heels of the Nigerian men’s senior national team’s outstanding performance at the recently concluded Rugby Sevens Pre-Olympic Qualifiers in Mauritius. The Black Stallions showcased their skills and determination throughout the tournament, securing wins from the group stage to the final.
Although they narrowly missed out on the championship title, losing 24-5 to a formidable Algerian side in the final, the Black Stallions left a lasting impression. Their journey to the final was paved with dominant victories, including a 24-7 triumph over Ghana in the opening match, a resounding 43-14 victory against Burundi, and a commanding 43-0 rout of Congo in the group stage.
In the quarter-finals, under the guidance of Coach Steve Lewis, the Stallions continued their winning streak by thrashing Botswana 33-5. The semi-finals presented a challenging encounter against a determined Cote D’Ivoire team, but the Stallions’ firepower proved too much to handle as they emerged victorious with a 20-12 win.
Nigeria’s defeat to Algeria in the final was their only setback in the pre-qualifier tournament held in Mauritius. Despite this loss, the Black Stallions showcased resilience, determination, and exceptional teamwork throughout the competition.
The Nigerian team featured eight debutants, including Awobowale Olukolade Mobolaji, Esiri Aaron, Asher Chinedu, Goualin Pierre Henri, Henrry-Ajudua Chukwuyem Frederick, Ilube Matthew Maurice, Lipede Adenekan Jojoola, Odunlami Oluwadara Olufewa, and Onyeahasi Alexander George. These newcomers joined forces with seasoned veterans Ono Jatto, Gabriel John, Declan Nwachukwu, and David Aniebonam to form a formidable unit.
Looking ahead, Nigeria will set their sights on securing a spot in the Olympics. They will join Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Namibia, Madagascar, Tunisia, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, and Cote D’Ivoire at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in September. The Black Stallions will undoubtedly bring their A-game to this crucial event as they strive to make their mark on the international stage.
In conclusion, the Black Stallions’ impressive rise in the Rugby Sevens ranking is a testament to their hard work, talent, and determination. Nigeria’s rugby team has shown tremendous growth, and their recent performances have garnered well-deserved recognition. As they continue to push boundaries and overcome challenges, the Black Stallions are poised to make a lasting impact in the world of rugby.