Thirteen African rugby men’s teams competed in the 2021-2022 Rugby Africa Cup pool play-offs which ended recently in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The 2021–22 Rugby Africa Cup, which doubled as qualifying for the 2023 Rugby World Cup for Africa began on 5th June, 2021. Since then, various teams representing different countries competed for a direct qualification spot into the final World Cup tournament and for one place in the final qualification tournament.
The World Cup qualification process is also a two-year format for the Africa Cup.
Qualifying began with a round-robin tournament between Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Burundi. The winner of this tournament, Burkina Faso, advanced to the group stage of the tournament.
The top two teams from each of the four groups then advance to the final round in 2022. The top team from the final round qualifies as Africa 1. The second-place team advances to the final qualification tournament.
Round 2 consisted of four pools of three teams, competing from 3rd to the 22nd of July 2021. The top two teams in each pool advanced to Round 3.
On kick-off day on 3rd July, Kenya and Namibia – the top two teams in the African rankings – were defeated respectively by Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. In pool C, Ghana managed to secure a last-minute victory against Algeria.
The following teams qualified for Rugby Africa Cup Pools 2022 at the end of the competition:
Pool A (Hosted by Côte D’ivoire) – Namibia & Côte d’Ivoire
Pool B (Hosted by Kenya) – Senegal & Kenya
Pool C (Hosted by Uganda) – Uganda & Algeria
Pool D (Hosted by Zimbabwe) – Zimbabwe & Burkina Faso
The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 quarter-finals will have the following pairings: Namibia vs Burkina Faso, Senegal vs Algeria, Uganda vs Kenya, and Zimbabwe vs Côte d’Ivoire
Rugby Africa president Khaled Babbou, said, “For the first time, Rugby Africa adopted a truly inclusive approach whereby all eligible Unions were offered a chance to compete in the World Cup qualification process. Due to various reasons a number of Unions were unable to participate but still in the end 13 countries fielded teams in the various tournaments which is a remarkable achievement.”
Successfully executed, the tournament saw 400 players and management involved. When adding the U20 and women’s matches in the same period, there were a total of 23 games, with 650 delegates and 22 teams in total. Fifty match officials were deployed from Rugby Africa’s accredited panels which included match commissioners, citing commissioners, tournament doctors, referee managers and referees.Kenyan captain Samson Onsomu said, “It was great to be able to see and have our fellow African teams’ bond together and deliver entertaining games. The officials and administrators were remarkable in their duties and allowed us to participate on a global standard.” – Hapa Kenya