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Rugby Africa endorses new format for 2019 Gold Cup

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa has announced new playing format for its flagship tournament, the Africa Gold Cup ahead of the 2019 season.

The continental rugby governing body has announced it will have eight teams divided into two Pools battling for the coveted title, with the ultimate winner crowned the Africa champion for the rugby 15s game.

However, according to Rugby Africa President Abdelaziz Bougja, the venue of the two pool tournament is yet to be agreed.

“The dates are tentative and should they change, Rugby Africa will alert the participating nations,” said Abdelaziz Bougja on Wednesday.

Reigning Africa Gold Cup Champions Namibia spearhead Pool A that also features Tunisia, Zimbabwe and the newly promoted Zambia.

Pool B has Kenya, which finished second, missing the World Cup ticket through the continental qualifiers, Uganda, Algeria and Morocco. The 2018 Africa Gold Cup tournament attracted only six teams.

Zambia beat Botswana and Madagascar in the Silver Cup South region while Algeria beat the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal in Silver Cup North area.

“The proposed format will have the pool matches played in a round robin in two different venues and on different dates in July,” said Bougja.

Pool A matches will be played between July 6-14 while Pool B matches will take place between July 13-21. The eight countries have been asked to bid for hosting rights for the pool stages.

Winners of each pool will proceed to the final where the host will be chosen according to the points collected during the pool phases. The final will take place in November. 



Kenya to send strong junior team to 2019 U-20 rugby Africa tournament

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will send a strong side to the 2019 U-20 Africa Rugby 15s tournament, eyeing to claim the Barthes Trophy and a ticket to the Junior World Rugby Trophy in Brazil.

The tournament, which will be staged from March 25 to April 14, has three pools. Bougja Abdelaziz, president of Rugby Africa, said Wednesday that 12 teams have confirmed participation in the age group competition.

“Venues for the tournaments are yet to be announced because the countries have until Jan. 15 to put in a tender to host,” said Abdelaziz in a statement.

Kenya will have to be at its best form if they are to challenge for the top spot in the group and qualify for the semifinals. They are ranked third in Pool A alongside top seed Namibia, Tunisia and Senegal.

Kenya missed out on the Youth Olympics in Argentina, which is open to players under 17 years, but Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Chairman Richard Omwela has confirmed they are keen to enter a strong team in the U-20 tournament.

Pool B has Africa 15s rugby giants Zimbabwe, the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco and Madagascar while Group C witnesses East African side Uganda, Algeria, Zambia and Ghana.

The winners in Pool C will be promoted to Pool B in 2020. This will be the first time for Ghana to participate in the U-20 rugby international tournament.

“The winner of Pool A will qualify for the 2019 Junior World Rugby Trophy,” said Abdelaziz.

The 2019 World Rugby Junior World Trophy will be played at the Estadio Martins Pereira in Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil. The tournament will take place from July 9-21.

The winner of the 2019 U-20 Trophy will earn promotion to the 2020 World Rugby U-20 Championship.


Kenya rugby team takes positives despite missing World Cup

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Captain of the Kenya rugby 15s team Wilson Kopondo says his team has taken positives despite their failure to make the 2019 World Cup.

Kopondo said the team has gained valuable experience ahead of the 2019 season, where some players will drop down to the Sevens game and seek qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“It has been a very good experience for the country, we have taken the lessons and seen the level we need to aspire too and that is what we will be working towards for the next qualifiers,” he said.

Four teams of Kenya, Canada, Germany and Hong Kong, China were battling for the last slot after losing out in their respective continental World Cup qualifiers.

And it was Canada who made the final spot to join 19 other qualifiers after beating Hong Kong, China 27-10 in the final match of the repechage tournament in France on Friday.

Germany finished second after recording a bonus-point 43-6 victory over Kenya. Hong Kong, China finished third and Kenya fourth.

Head coach Ian Snook says lack of good preparations and support may have cost the team the ticket to the World Cup.

“I don’t have any plans at the moment. I will speak with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and we will see where we take it from here,” said Snook.

During the World Cup, Canada will play in Pool B against defending champions New Zealand, two-time winners South Africa, Italy and African qualifiers Namibia, with their first match to be against the Azzurri (New Zealand) in Fukuoka, Japan in September 2019.

Twelve teams have qualified directly by virtue of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at the World Cup 2015 in England. The remaining eight places were determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers.

The qualification process, which began in March 2016, has involved 188 matches across 994 days among 71 teams for a dream of playing at 2019 World Cup.

The last eight qualifiers are USA, Uruguay, Russia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Namibia and Canada.


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