Finally, the time has come for the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers for Africa to commence the Rugby Africa Cup Repechage is set to be hosted by the Burkina Faso Rugby Union in the capital Ouagadougou at the Stade 4 Août stadium, from the 5th 13th June 2021.
The Rugby Africa Cup Repechage marks the restart of the Rugby Africa competitions program and launches the qualification for Rugby World Cup 2023. With the Rugby Africa flagship men's 15s competitions having grown from 4 teams in 2016 to 14 teams in 2021, the Rugby Africa Cup Repechage tournament will act as the first round of the RWC 2023 Qualifiers for Africa. The winner of the tournament will join the 12th slot in the Rugby Africa Cup Pool D, to be hosted in Tunisia from 10th 18th July 2021. Pool D consists of the Zimbabwe and Tunisia national teams. This second round of the Rugby Africa Cup will be played across four pools of three teams each in July in four different venues, namely Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tunisia. The top 2 teams of each pool will progress to the third and final round of the Rugby Africa Cup in 2022. An 8 teams knock-out tournament played with quarterfinals, semi-finals and a grand finale will see the winner qualify directly for RWC 2023 and the runner-up compete in a global repechage tournament.
Three teams are expected to participate in the RAC Repechage round-robin tournament over four match days, namely Burkina Faso, Burundi, and Cameroon. It will be a first for Burkina Faso and Burundi to compete in a tournament that is part of the Rugby World Cup qualifier pathway. While this tournament will mark the return of Cameroon in an international competition following their re-instatement as a Rugby Africa member union.
Rugby Africa has presented the following schedule for fixtures in the Rugby Africa Cup Repechage:5th June: Burundi vs Burkina Faso (Men) 9th June: Burundi vs Cameroon (Men) 9th June: Burkina Faso vs Cameroon (Women) 12th June: Burkina Faso vs Cameroon (Women) 13thJune: Burkina Faso vs Cameroon (Men)
As part of Rugby Africa's commitment to increase competition, commercial and fan engagement opportunities with women's rugby, the tournament is aligned to a series of test matches across Africa that evaluates women's 15s squads and prepares the future of women's rugby.
This was cemented by the recent launch of WXV, a three-tiered annual competition model a platform for the women's international teams to compete in more consistent, competitive, and sustainable competitions at a regional and global level.
Geared up for the start of the tournament Burkina Faso Rugby Union President, Rolande Boro said, that the time had come for her country to showcase their talent on the African rugby stage.
"As a union we are extremely excited to be the host country and have our national team participate for the first time. We have been diligently organising this important tournament and we are more than ready to bring the games to our fans. We have set the bar high to meet international standards knowing very well that this will officially mark the start of the African Qualifiers for the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be held in France."
Also setting their boots for the first time in the Rugby Africa Cup Repechage field, Burundi Rugby Union President, Albert Habyarimana said that Burundi would be flying their flag high in the #AfricaAsOne tournament.
"This is an ambitious tournament that we will be heading into a global competitive game that certainly will grow the Burundi national team and encourage fans to participate and support their home team. We are aiming at growing our profile and fan base and this tournament will certainly spotlight the Union and the players."
Re-entering into international play after a time of absence, Cameroon Rugby Union President, Marc Essono expressed that it was an honour to be participating.
"We are pleased that Cameroon has been reintegrated into the continental Rugby Africa family and we welcome this tournament. We know our country has great potential and it is important that our national team begins to establish themselves again on the global field."
All five matches will be recorded and uploaded onto Rugby Africa's website and across YouTube and Facebook.
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About Rugby Africa:
Created in 1986, Rugby Africa, previously the African Confederation of Rugby (Confédération Africaine de Rugby CAR), is one of the six regional associations composing World Rugby (WorldRugby.org), the international organization responsible for the governing of Rugby Union and Rugby Sevens. Rugby Africa unites all African countries which play rugby union, rugby sevens, and women's rugby. Rugby Africa organizes the qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup, and Africa Sevens, a qualifying competition for the Olympic Games. Rugby Africa has 39 members.