(Xinhua) -- The hunt for the two tickets to the rugby
15s World Cup will start in earnest this weekend as teams line
up for the Africa Gold Cup.
Six countries: Kenya, Namibia,
Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Morocco and Uganda are battling it out for
the two tickets in the campaign starting Saturday up to
On Saturday, there will be two on the
cards as Zimbabwe get the campaign underway with a clash at home
in Harare against Morocco while champions Namibia host Uganda.
“This year’s competition is of great
significance to all six teams competing in the top tier of
African test rugby as the overall winner earns direct
qualification to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan in addition
to being crowned champions of Africa,” said Abdelaziz Bougja on
“The competition runner up will
proceed to play a repechage tournament later in the year against
sides from the Americas, Europe and Asia for the final slot in
Japan,” he added.
Kenya, champions in 2011 and 2013,
enter the fray with an away fixture against Morocco on June 23,
while Namibia play a second match against Tunisia. Kenya will
then meet Zimbabwe in Nairobi on June 30 as Namibia play
The first round of matches end with
Kenya taking on Uganda in Nairobi in June and July. The match
will also double as the return leg for the regional Elgon Cup
where Kenya hold a slim lead of 31-16 against their East African
In the Gold Cup, the curtains fall on
the competition on Aug. 18 with all six teams involved in
Zimbabwe, Africa’s representatives at
the first two editions of the Rugby World Cup in 1987 and 1991,
have enlisted the services of former Springbok head coach Peter
de Villiers to lead their quest for a return to the world stage
for the first time in close to three decades.
Namibia, winners of the last four Gold
Cups in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 will be out to again assert
their dominance on the African continent and add to their
uninterrupted streak of five Rugby World Cup appearances in
1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.
Kenya, who came agonizingly close to
qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, have enlisted the
services of New Zealanders Ian Snook and Murray Roulston as they
look to emulate their sevens counterparts by representing Africa
on the global stage.
Uganda, Tunisia and Morocco too will
be leaving nothing to chance and will be out to upset the
established order during this year’s competition.