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Kenya and Uganda rugby 15s teams
will compete in revived 'Victoria Cup'

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Four countries have come together to revive the Victoria Cup following the cancellation of Africa Rugby Gold Cup.

Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia will play in a round robin format in the rugby 15s to boost their international exposure in the Victoria Cup starting June 22.

The Victoria Cup previously featured Kenya and Zimbabwe between 2002 and 2003 before it was scrapped in 2004.

This time around, it will feature Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and new participant Zambia.

Rugby World Cup-bound Namibia is not part of the competition.

Kenya’s head coach Paul Odera said the competition is important as it will help sharpen the team and keep the players competitive in a transitional year.

"It’s good to have four games for the team as it will grow our young team and enable them to face the best on the continent," said Odera on Monday.

The Elgon Cup clash between Kenya and Uganda in Kisumu on Saturday will double up as Victoria Cup opener for the two teams.

The return leg match will be played on July 13 in Kampala.

Kenya will then host Zimbabwe on July 6 with the return leg on July 20 in Harare. Kenya’s last away match is against Zambia on July 27 with the return leg set for Aug. 17.

Following the cancellation of the Gold Cup, Rugby Africa has also unveiled a new competition format where the 16 best African teams will compete in a truly continental rugby championship made up of 20 matches divided into three stages.

"We are completely revising our system of competition.

"By introducing this new format, we hope to forge new partnerships that will allow us to improve our game every year," said Khaled Babbou, president of Rugby Africa.

Starting from November 2019, 16 teams will compete in the new Rugby Africa Cup (RAC) with an aim to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in 2022.

The top 16 teams based on the African ranking will compete in a single coordinated competition until the last two face each other in the final.

The first stage consists of a qualifying round where the winner of each of these four matches will progress to the group phase.

In this second stage, the 12 teams are divided into four pools with teams playing against each other in a home and away game.

The winner of each group will progress to the final tournament of the RAC.

The top four teams from Africa will meet in one venue for the final stage of the RAC, which will include two semi-finals, a play-off for third place and, ultimately, the final to decide who will be the African champions.

"This arrangement gives every team a chance to make it to the finals and will reward merit and performance.

"The teams that are eliminated in the first round will have another chance in November 2020 to try and re-qualify," said Andrew Owor, vice president of Rugby Africa.


Kenya and Uganda to use regional Elgon
Cup as build-up for World Cup qualifiers

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Uganda have opted to revive the regional women’s 15s rugby Elgon Cup tournament to provide better exposure and development for the sport.

Only the men’s team has been competing in the Elgon Cup tournament, but the two rugby unions will for the first time incorporate their female teams, with the aim to offer a platform to develop their games ahead of the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.

The Kenyan team the Lionesses head coach Felix Oloo says his team is ready to take on their rivals the Ugandan Lady Cranes.

This year’s Elgon Cup will be played on a home and away basis. Kisumu City will host the first round on Saturday.

"We are confident with the capacity of the squad selected to represent Kenya.

"Uganda has heavy forwards and they will be out to display their defensive play.

"The Lionesses however are well prepared for this encounter," Oloo said on Wednesday in Nairobi.

The Kenyan women’s rugby team has not been in action in the 15’s version since 2015 when they clinched the Elgon Cup the title.

"Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Cup later this year during the Africa Women’s qualifiers in South Africa.

"I have a very hard working technical team that has ensured we have smooth training sessions daily.

"The players have also been very hardworking, they have shown their determination and yearning to don the National jersey and represent their country at the Elgon Cup and beyond," said Oloo.

The president of the Uganda Rugby Union, Godwin Kayangwe has expressed his gratitude for the revival of the women’s 15s games.

"I must thank the countries for their hard work to revive the tournament and the support the team has received from sponsors," said Kayangwe.

Africa World Cup qualifiers in Johannesburg will see four teams competing to win their place to play in New Zealand including hosts South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar.

Only the winner will secure the ticket while the second ranked team will have a chance through the repechage tournament via a play-off with South America second-placed team.

Africa lags behind other parts of the world in terms of women’s rugby. It has sent no representative to previous Women’s Rugby 15s World Cup.


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