Ghana Rugby
Rugby

Rugby Africa on Friday confirmed the six teams that will compete in this year’s Silver Cup, which begins on July 8 with two pools in north and southern Africa.

The six rugby 15s teams are Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, who will form the north pool and will have their matches played in Toulouse, France, while the southern pool matches will be held in Mufulira, Zambia, where teams are hosts Zambia, Botswana and Madagascar.

The winners of each pool will then meet on August 25 to determine who joins the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which currently comprises Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

However, the last team in the Silver Cup will be relegated to the Bronze Cup cadre, with Ghana promoted in their place.

Rugby Africa President Abdelaziz Bougja said they had no choice but to have the north pool matches out of the continent, as no country was ready to host them and the majority of the players are based in France.

“We are aware that the format of the tournament is different from last year, and that the choice of venue for the games of the north pool has caused our African supporters to ask questions. We always give preference to matches on African soil, but this year, with no country volunteering to organize the event and given that many players from these three countries go on to progress their careers in France, we turned to our partner, the French Rugby Federation,” said Bougja in a statement.

Rugby Africa said the Silver Cup will feature six qualification pool matches to be played from Sunday to July 14.

“The ultimate winner of the tournament will qualify for the 2019 Rugby Africa Gold Cup. The location of the final will be decided once the group matches are finished and will depend on the teams’ ranking,” said Rugby Africa.

Cote d’Ivoire returned after having lost in the finals to Morocco last year and are determined to clinch their place at the Gold Cup. Ivorian coach Edgar Babou told Rugby Africa that his players are keen to win the Silver Cup this year after missing out in 2017.

“Our players are keen. The standard in this tournament will be very high. We are anticipating intense and serious exchanges. Our commitment is unwavering and we are ready for the challenge. The geographical location this year is a double-edged sword for us. As we are far from Africa, we hope that the large Ivorian community living in France, as well as former internationals, will turn out to support us and give us a boost,” said Babou.

Sofian Ben Hassen, President of the Algerian Rugby Federation, urged caution, noting that it would only be Algeria’s second appearance in the competition.

“We are making slow but steady progress and I am confident that, no matter what happens, we will come out of this tournament a better team,” said Ben Hassen. Enditem

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