By Abdi Ali
Published December 14, 2017
More than one hundred 15- and 7-a-side rugby matches, 32 participating countries and 10 competitions is what is in store for rugby fans and players in Africa in 2018.
Rugby Africa, that governs the sport across the continent, says the U20 Barthés Trophy will kick-off Rugby Africa’s competitions March 28 – 31, 2018 and that it will decide the under-20 team that will represent Africa at the Junior World Trophy later in the year.
The Rugby Africa Bronze Cup, described as ‘the gateway to Rugby Africa’s men’s rugby competition’, will then take place May 9 – 12 in Accra, Ghana. Lesotho and Ghana shall 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.
Africa Women’s Sevens tournament with ten teams in May and June in a yet to be determined location will usher in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup on June 16 – August 18. This is touted as Rugby Africa’s flagship competition that shall bring together the six best African rugby nations. Fans, Rugby Africa says,
will follow the action live on Kwesé Sports and Facebook Live.
“After 15 matches played in 6 different countries, we will know which team will carry the hopes of Africa alongside South Africa at the 2019 World Cup, while another team will get a second chance in the international repechage tournament,” Rugby Africa says.
The organisers say the next best-ranked six teams of Africa will compete in two pools as part of the Rugby Africa Silver Cup July 8 – 14. A final match between the two pools’ winners will later decide the promoted team in the Gold Cup for the following year.
“The season will end in September and October with a sequence of three men’s rugby sevens tournaments. In the first place, two sub-regional tournaments will see up to 20 countries compete for qualification in the last round of Olympic qualifying in 2019. Then in October the 12 best African sevens rugby nations will compete for the title of 2018 African champion and a chance to be invited to some stages of the World Series and the repechage tournament that would allow them to join South Africa and Kenya in the prestigious circuit,” a statement fro Rugby Africa says.
“Rugby Africa wants to involve as many countries as possible in its continental competitions. This we do in a spirit of solidarity but also to allow local rugby to develop by having the opportunity to progress and play in bigger tournaments. The participation and hosting of continental competitions are important arguments for retaining talent but also to gain support from institutional and private partners,” says Abdelaziz Bougja, President of Rugby Africa.
“The Rugby Africa Gold Cup will be a hard contest between the six countries in the running. Rugby Africa will support them to organise very high-level tournaments,” says Guédel N’Diaye, director of competitions at Rugby Africa.