The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
WORLD Rugby’s reach across Africa has grown further after Algeria and Burundi became full members of the international federation following approval at the World Rugby Council meeting, held virtually on Wednesday.
The African nations were successful after achieving all the necessary criteria and their elevation to full member status sees World Rugby’s membership stand at 128, including 109 full members and 19 associate members.
Wednesday’s announcement follows the launch of World Rugby’s new Strategic Plan 2021-25 in April, which provides a framework for the continued development and expansion of rugby, supporting unions and regions in building capacity and capability, as the international federation strives to continue the journey towards becoming a global sport for all.
Both the Fédération Algérienne de Rugby and the Federation Burundaise de Rugby are full members of Rugby Africa and have sustainable women’s rugby as well as development programmes in place as they continue to grow as rugby nations.
The East African country currently has 2750 registered players and has been an associate member of World Rugby since 2004, while the North Africans have over 80 men’s and 40 women’s teams and became an associate member in 2019.
Algeria and Burundi will enter the qualification journey for Rugby World Cup 2023 as they are set to compete in the Rugby Africa Cup 2021. The competition begins with a repechage event in June before the group phase sees four pools of three teams each playing a round-robin tournament at a single venue per pool.
Burundi will compete in the Rugby Africa Cup repechage in Burkina Faso from 5-13 June which also includes Burkina Faso and Cameroon. The winner of the repechage will join Rugby Africa Cup Pool D in Tunisia in July together with Tunisia and Zimbabwe. Algeria on the other hand will play in the Rugby Africa Cup Pool C in Kampala against Ghana and hosts Uganda from 10-18 July.
The best two teams from each pool qualify for Rugby Africa Cup 2022, which serves as the final round of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier for Africa. The eventual winner of the Rugby Africa Cup in August 2022 will qualify for RWC 2023 as Africa 1, entering group A alongside hosts France, while the runner-up will enter the final qualification tournament for another chance at qualifying.