France overcome Kenya in men's rugby league international

France comfortably won the opening men’s senior international of their two-game series of an historic visit to Kenya, running in 15 tries to defeat the hosts 78-6 at the ASK Grounds in Nairobi. The visitors took the lead in the fourth minute through Hnaloan Hnangan, one of four players to finish with hat tricks.

Halves Baptiste Fabre, who kicked nine goals, and Clément Herrero dominated the play and the speed of fullback, Limoux’s Quentin Crunel and wingers Baptiste Pourchi and Mathieu Pons – who all registered try trebles – was too much for the inexperienced Kenyans to handle, France leading 42-0 at the break after dominating the play-the-ball on attack and defence.

“We are very happy with the result,” said France head coach, Maxime Grésèque. “We had a long journey to get here and didn’t know anything about the Kenyan players and it is a good victory for us. We will make changes for Tuesday’s game, we have a lot of young players and we want to give then experience. It’s most important for rugby league development for us to come to places like this.”

Gilles Dumas, who headed the French RL Federation delegation, added: “I congratulate the young French team for the result but I was really surprised by Kenya, they never gave up trying and deserved their late try, it is a good day for rugby league. We are discussing further programmes and partnerships with Kenya RLF, and we hope to help them realise their goals.”

James Odhiambo scored Kenya’s try five minutes from time from an early kick following a penalty, but the side made three clean breaks without being able to finish which illustrated their promise in front of a number of prominent government officials and VIPs.

Kenya head coach, Edward Rombo, said: “The pace was a bit too high for us and we just couldn’t defend conclusively. In the next game we will be more on the front foot rather than allowing them to attack us, that’s what we’ll work on now. The more time we train together, the better we will become. We have a list of 35 players so we can cover for any injuries suffered in this game.”

KENYA 6

Anderson Adour, Ramadhan Masete, Wycliffe Rameto, Denish Ndinya, Edwin Watulo, Joseph Nun, Saidi Abdallah, Sollo Mbugua, Kelly Omari, Malcom Busury Paul Seda, Evans Omondi, Raymond Ekutu

Subs: Michael Karani, Frank Awuor, Victor Ndungu, James Odhiambo

Try: Odhiambo (75)

Goal: Abdallah 1/1

FRANCE 78

Quentin Crunel, Baptiste Pourchi, Allan Baby, Maxime Grosson, Mathieu Pons, Baptiste Fabre, Clément Herrero, Bastien Scimone, Yacine Ben Abdeslem, Clément Boyer, Hnaloan Hnanga, Corentin Le Cam, Guillermo Aispuro-Bichet

Subs: Mathias Leveille, Paolo Dall’Asta, Felix Aubry, Nolan Lopez-Buttignol

Tries: Hnangan (4, 14, 20), Pourchi (11, 43, 69), Pons (28, 40, 64), Crunel (33, 37, 61), Grosson (58), Boyer (77), Le Cam (80)

Goals: Fabre 9/15

Half time: 0-42

Referee: Stephane Vincent (France)