This Day (Lagos)

13 November 2012

Nigeria: Police Retain EXP Lagos 7s Rugby Title

In a nail-biting game that went into extra time, after both teams were deadlocked 7-7 at full time, the Nigerian Police beat Shell Warri 24-12 to defend the EXP Lagos 7s Rugby Festival title they won last year.

Warri signalled their intentions early on in the game and took the fight to the Police who came into the tournament as favourites.

Warri's defensive line were coming up quickly giving the Police very little time and room to move. After some ferocious tackling, the Police team turned over possession to the boys in blue and Ese Enajeroh broke down the left wing, brushed off one tackler to dot down under the posts for the first try of the match.

Anxiously pacing up the side line, Police coach, Mike Johnson, was looking a worried man; it's not often his well-drilled team is under such pressure.

He had to wait until well into the second half before the Police struck back and equalled the score, sending the final into extra time.

Police broke the deadlock with a well worked converted try under the posts in the first half of extra before scoring again then with two minutes left on the clock. Warri struck again but it was too late.

In the earlier matches, Kaduna were too strong for Eco 11. The Ajegunle based club, won the Shield final 24-0. Ilorin beat Lagos 7-0 in the Bowl final and Barewa, from Kano, were too strong for Racing, outscoring them 21-0.

CMS Grammar, one of the schools participating in the Cowbell I-Try Rugby Development Programme, beat the American International School 5-0 in a touch rugby demonstration game. For the AIS boys, it was their first competitive match.

Nerves must have been jangling as they ran onto the pitch and when the boys from CMS Grammar performed their own 'nzogbu, nzogbu' before the start of the match, there was a sense that the Grammar school youngsters had been inspired by the spectacular hakas of the New Zealand All Blacks.

To their credit, the AIS lads took them in their stride and marched forward shoulder to shoulder with no sign that they were about to be intimidated.

It was a scene reminiscent of the 1995 IRB World Cup Final at Ellis Park in South Africa when the Springboks (South Africa) marched in formation towards the New Zealanders during the haka until Kobus Wiese was toe to toe and nose to nose with Jonah Lomu.

Addressing the players and the fans after presenting the trophies to the champions, Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Babatunde Popoola, praised the Nigerian Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) for the work it has been doing to build a culture of rugby in Nigeria.

"I have been at both last year's Lagos 7s, and again this weekend's, and I would like to thank the players for entertaining us with some great rugby," enthused the newly converted rugby fan.

"I would also like to congratulate the sponsors EXP and the NRFF for the excellent work they are doing to develop rugby. From the talent we have seen here this weekend and with the plans in place I know Nigerian Rugby is in good hands and the future is bright.

Earlier fans had a chance to win a new Toyota Avanza in a drop-kick competition in sponsored by Mandilas Motors, the biggest Toyota dealership in the country.

Competition entrants had the chance to win the car valued at over three million naira by hitting the cross bar with a drop-kick from the 10 metre line.

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