Namibia’s Welwitschias are among sides that have confirmed their place in the Rugby Africa Cup 2022, the next stage of the region’s Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process.
Namibia and Cote d’Ivoire made it through as the top two teams from Pool A of this year’s qualification tournament, while Senegal and Kenya qualified from Pool B.
Pool A was keenly contested, with one win apiece for the three competing teams, and was ultimately decided on points difference.
Madagascar missed out despite bouncing back from their midweek 52-10 defeat to Namibia with a 24-19 victory against hosts Cote d’Ivoire, who remain on course to appear in their first Rugby World Cup of the professional era on the strength of their shock win against Namibia last week. It will only be of minor consolation to the Makis that the result lifted them five places in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings to 47th.
The Welwitschias go through to the eight-team 2022 Rugby Africa Cup, which will also be the final qualifying tournament for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Next year’s Africa Cup will be contested on a knockout basis, and Namibia will face the runners-up of Pool D of the ongoing Rugby Africa Cup.
With Tunisia already having withdrawn, that leaves Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso as one of Namibia’s possible opponents come 2022. The Zimbabwe and Burkina play each other in Harare over the next two weeks.
Zimbabwe, ranked 34th in the world, start as favourites against 90th-ranked Burkina Faso and are tipped to win Pool D, which would mean Namibia would face the Burkinabe in 2022 whole Zimbabwe would take on Cote d’Ivoire in the race to book places at the 2023 World Cup.
In Pool B of the current qualification tournament, Senegal were the only team to win both their fixtures, following up an earlier 20-19 win over Kenya with a 20-5 victory against Zambia. Kenya bounced back to beat Zambia 45-8 on Sunday to finish runners-up behind the Lions.
The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 will involve eight teams – with the top two teams from Pool C and Pool D making up the line-up – and is due to be played on a straight knockout basis.
Uganda got off to a good start in Pool C with a 53-12 win over Ghana on Saturday. Number eight Desire Ayera and winger Solomon Okia both grabbed a brace of tries in a nine-try victory against a team ranked 46 places lower than them.
Uganda, who are the host nation of Pool C, will look to make it two wins from two against Algeria on July 18.
Before tha, Ghana had a must-win encounter against Algeria on July 14. – Rugby World Cup/Agencies