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Rugby Africa president predicts continent
dominance at 2019 World Cup in Japan

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa president Abdelaziz Bougja believes the continent’s representative at the World Cup will not only show up the numbers but also make a serious bid for the trophy.

In a telephone interview with Xinhua, Bougja said Africa’s three teams in the 2019 World Cup will raise the profile of the sport in the continent.

Rugby 15s and sevens have become one of the fastest-growing sports and the continental body want to reap rewards from it.

“There is a huge base of popularity in Africa. Last year alone rugby was taught in 22,000 schools and women rugby is now actively taking up to 20 percent in school sports. Our secret is to work hard and reach out to more teams. Make it part of Africa sports. Our hope is to have three African teams at the Japan World Cup in 2019,” said Bougja.

In 2002, only six African countries were playing the game, but now Rugby Africa boasts 38 countries.

Out of 105 countries playing rugby competitively, one-third are African countries. The continental body however feels more needs to be done to penetrate countries like Angola, South Sudan, and Sudan.

On Tuesday, Bougja unveiled the Rugby Africa Gold Cup trophy, which is the highest reward for any African rugby player.

The Rugby Africa Gold Cup will kick off in Windhoek, Namibia on June 16. The tournament from June 16 to August 18 will bring together an impressive line-up of rugby players from six countries—Kenya, Namibia, Morocco, Uganda, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

The top two sides from the Africa Gold Cup will join South Africa at the Japan World Cup in 2019.

“The Africa Gold Cup is critical to us starting in June with three matches and another in Aug. 15. The winner joins South Africa in Japan and the second team will go through the repecharge, an inter-continental qualifying tournament with teams from Asia and Oceania. But we hope all the three teams will be in Japan,” Bougja added.

Rugby Africa is one of the six regional associations affiliated with World Rugby, the international organization governing the Rugby Union and Rugby Sevens.

Rugby Africa unites all of the African countries which play rugby 15s, rugby sevens, and women’s rugby.

It organizes the Africa Gold Cup, the qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup 2019, and Africa Sevens, a qualifying competition for the Olympic Games 2020.



Uganda hires South African coach to prepare for 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda has hired a high performance coach, Ninette Kruyt from South Africa to prepare the national team ahead of the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup scheduled from July 20 to 22 in the United States.

Ramzy Olinga, the CEO of the Uganda Rugby Union said on Wednesday that Kruyt will work with the national head coach Tolbert Onyango to prepare the team, Rugby Cranes.

“We decided to take advantage of her expertise because she is among the best in Africa as a high performance coach who is also a strength and conditioning expert,” Olinga said.

Olinga said the team needs fine tuning ahead of the tournament.

“She arrived on Sunday and will be with the team for two weeks before she travels back and again returns next month for more sessions,” Olinga said.

He said the team will then travel to South Africa for further training before it heads out to the United States.

Uganda together with South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe will represent the African continent at the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup.

The  Rugby Cranes will open their campaign against Samoa in the preliminary round on July 20 at the AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Uganda qualified for the Rugby World Cup last year after beating Zimbabwe 22-10 to retain the Africa Rugby Sevens  Cup. New Zealand are the reigning World Cup champions.


Ghana to host 2018 Rugby Africa Bronze Cup

ACCRA Ghana (Xinhua) -- Ghana will play host to the 2018 Rugby Africa Bronze Cup, said a press release issued here on Tuesday.

The tournament, which will feature Ghana, Lesotho, Mauritius and Rwanda, is scheduled to take place at the Nduom sports stadium in the central region of Ghana from May 9-12, 2018.

The event, organized by Rugby Africa, the Africa Region of World Rugby, will kick off with the match between Ghana and Rwanda.

The winner of the tournament will automatically qualify for the 2019 Rugby Africa Silver Cup.

Ghana and Lesotho make their first appearance at this level following Lesotho’s victory in the regional challenge 2017 and Ghana’s acquisition of full membership status of world rugby.

Commenting on the tournament, Herbert Mensah, President and Board Chairman of Ghana Rugby, said the event is about much more than just rugby, adding that it is a showcase to the world that Ghana can produce world-class tournaments in the country.

The Bronze Cup also coincides with a Rugby Africa Super Week whereby a contingent of World Rugby Trainers will be in Accra to present courses on mass Participation, Level One Match Officiating and Level Two Coaching.



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