The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
FRANCE will host the 2022 Ruby Africa Cup, the last qualifying round for Rugby World Cup 2023, where eight African countries, including Zimbabwe will fight for the continent’s sole ticket to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Algeria, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Namibia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda and Senegal are the African countries still in contention for a place at the 2023 Rugby Africa Cup in France on the Rugby Africa ticket. South Africa have already secured automatic qualification for France after they won the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
In a press release sent out on Monday, Rugby Africa said following a call for applications launched to all African member federations of World Rugby as well as to France 2023, the Rugby Africa commissions have reviewed the submissions in the light of very precise criteria to evaluate the offers and enable Rugby Africa’s Executive Committee to choose the host country of the Rugby Africa Cup 2022. Through a voting process, the candidacy of France 2023 was eventually selected.
“The well-being, health and safety of the players remained at the heart of the priorities. France 2023 (in charge of organising Rugby World Cup 2023) promises to host a tournament of the highest international standards, whether it is the match stadium, hotels, security measures, health standards relating to Covid-19 or medical infrastructure available,’’ Rugby Africa said.
With a long tradition of hosting Rugby Africa tournaments and activities, France and Rugby Africa are already in a close collaboration process which will provide the eight competing teams with an exceptional tournament and ideal hosting conditions to concentrate on a single goal, win the final match and qualify directly for Rugby World Cup 2023 which will also take place in France. The winner will meet hosts France, New Zealand, Italy and the Americas 1 qualifier in Pool A.
The knockout tournament will take place in the first half of July with four colorful quarter-finals that were determined at the end of the group stage of the Rugby Africa Cup 2021. Thus, the four group winners Namibia, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe will meet respectively with Burkina Faso, Algeria, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire. The semi-finals will follow and the long-awaited final. Ranking matches will also be played.
Runners up from the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 will have to make do with a place in the final qualification tournament to make one final attempt to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023.
The Brendan Dawson coached Sables of Zimbabwe finished as the best team in the Rugby Africa Cup pool D with thumping wins over Burkina Faso Stallions in two matches played at Old Georgians Sports Club in Harare. Zimbabwe hammered Burkina Faso 101-3 and 95-5 to secure top spot in pool D that was reduced to just two teams after Tunisia withdrew due to the Covid-19 situation in the North African country.
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