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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Six teams face off in quest for Rugby Africa
Silver Cup, promotion to Gold Cup

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa on Friday confirmed the six teams that will compete in this year’s Silver Cup, which begins on July 8 with two pools in north and southern Africa.

The six rugby 15s teams are Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, who will form the north pool and will have their matches played in Toulouse, France, while the southern pool matches will be held in Mufulira, Zambia, where teams are hosts Zambia, Botswana and Madagascar.

The winners of each pool will then meet on August 25 to determine who joins the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which currently comprises Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

However, the last team in the Silver Cup will be relegated to the Bronze Cup cadre, with Ghana promoted in their place.

Rugby Africa President Abdelaziz Bougja said they had no choice but to have the north pool matches out of the continent, as no country was ready to host them and the majority of the players are based in France.

“We are aware that the format of the tournament is different from last year, and that the choice of venue for the games of the north pool has caused our African supporters to ask questions. We always give preference to matches on African soil, but this year, with no country volunteering to organize the event and given that many players from these three countries go on to progress their careers in France, we turned to our partner, the French Rugby Federation,” said Bougja in a statement.

Rugby Africa said the Silver Cup will feature six qualification pool matches to be played from Sunday to July 14.

“The ultimate winner of the tournament will qualify for the 2019 Rugby Africa Gold Cup. The location of the final will be decided once the group matches are finished and will depend on the teams’ ranking,” said Rugby Africa.

Cote d’Ivoire returned after having lost in the finals to Morocco last year and are determined to clinch their place at the Gold Cup. Ivorian coach Edgar Babou told Rugby Africa that his players are keen to win the Silver Cup this year after missing out in 2017.

“Our players are keen. The standard in this tournament will be very high. We are anticipating intense and serious exchanges. Our commitment is unwavering and we are ready for the challenge. The geographical location this year is a double-edged sword for us. As we are far from Africa, we hope that the large Ivorian community living in France, as well as former internationals, will turn out to support us and give us a boost,” said Babou.

Sofian Ben Hassen, President of the Algerian Rugby Federation, urged caution, noting that it would only be Algeria’s second appearance in the competition.

“We are making slow but steady progress and I am confident that, no matter what happens, we will come out of this tournament a better team,” said Ben Hassen.

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UPDATES:

Kenya 15s team maul Uganda in Rugby Africa Gold Cup tourney in Nairobi

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya 15s rugby team secured their third win in as many attempts in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign in Nairobi on Saturday as they mauled Uganda Cranes 38-22.

The host however, will have to return to the drawing board and improve on their defense line especially in the second half as the team looked jaded and out of breath to offer a glimmer of hope to the Ugandans to exploit their weak points.

The match, which also doubled up as the return leg for the regional Elgon Cup, will see Kenya claim both the regional bragging rights and the maximum points in their Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign. Kenya is now on three wins in the trop similar to Gold Cup defending champions Namibia.

Namibia firmed their grip at the top of the six-team standing when they played Morocco’s Atlas Lions in Windhoek and beat their opponents 63-07, to earn 15 points in the competition. Kenya now has 12 points in second place.

Other teams in the competition are Uganda, Tunisia, Morocco and Zimbabwe. The last team in the group will be relegated to the Silver Cup competition next season.

However, the winner of the Gold Cup will secure automatic slot at the World Cup in Japan in 2019 while the second finisher will be entered in a Repchange qualifier tourney in November to play teams from America, Asia, Latin and Europe.

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Kenya’s rugby team makes four changes to 15s team ahead of Uganda clash

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s 15s rugby head coach Ian Snook has made four changes to his team ahead of their match against Uganda here on Saturday.

The two countries will have no love lost between them as they clash aiming to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019 alive and also seek to claim bragging rights as the regional champions of the Elgon Cup.

Kenya, who survived a late scare from Zimbabwe last week in their 45-36 win, have moved to remedy that and will give Jacob Ojee and Vincent Mose starting roles.

Ojee is remembered for scoring the opening try as Kenya beat Uganda 34-16 in Kampala on May 26.

Ojee and Mose make their first starts of the campaign after missing the opening two rounds due to school commitments.

Ojee will be slotted in on the left wing while Mose has been handed a role to start as one of the fullbacks.

Former Kenya Sevens international Felix Ayange has also been called to the 15s team, landing his first test cap and will be starting on the right wing while Oliver Mang’eni has been reinstated to the starting line after coming off the bench against Zimbabwe.

Mang’eni takes the place of Malcolm Onsando, who is rested alongside Edmund Anya, Tony Onyango, Max Kang’eri and Curtis Lilako.

Starting on the bench will be Biko Adema, Hillary Mwanjilwa alongside France based Simon Muniafu, who could make his first appearance of the season.

Then Kenyan team is coming into the match off the back of two top performances - a 28-24 win away to Morocco on June 23 in Casablanca and 45-36 victory against Zimbabwe in Nairobi.

This has placed Kenya second on the log with eight points. They are seven points adrift of titleholders Namibia with three games to play. Namibia, on 15 points, have already dismissed Morocco, Zimbabwe and Tunisia.

After Saturday’s clash against Uganda, the qualification campaign will take a break for one month and resume with Kenya hosting Tunisia before traveling to Windhoek to face hosts and defending champions Namibia in their final match on Aug 18.

The winner of the round robin matches qualifies for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan with the second placed team heading for the World Repecharge tournament alongside other teams from Europe, Asia/Latin and America. The winner of the tourney will also sail through to the World Cup finals in Japan.

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Uganda name team for 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda on Monday named the final 12-man team that will take part in the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament on July 20-23 in San Francisco.

Coach Tolbert Onyango said he has picked the best team after months of intensive training and participation in a series of tournaments.

The Uganda Rugby Cranes will start their campaign against Samoa in the preliminary round on July 21 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

“I am happy that I have been picked to be part of the team at the World Cup and we are going to work hard to be able to impress in our first World Cup,” player Michael Okorach said.

Lawrence Ssebuliba misses out after he broke his arm last month during a 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup tie away to Namibia. If Uganda defeat Samoa, the Rugby Cranes will face England in the round of 16.

The men’s category will get underway on day one with Kenya facing Tonga in the first game of the preliminary round.

The new format at the World Cup will see the losers in the preliminary round drop to the Bowl competition, while the losers in the round of 16 drop to the Challenge Trophy and the winners move on to the Championship.

Africa’s other representative Zimbabwe will face Wales in the preliminary round. South Africa is among the top ranked teams and automatically qualifies for the round of 16 where they will face either Ireland or Chile.

             

 

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