Rugby Africa has released the calendar for the continental competitions for the year 2021.
The calendar has five programs that will kick off from March 2021, namely Rugby Africa (men’s and women’s Cups, Rugby Africa (men’s and women’s) Sevens and the U20 Barthes Trophy.
Andrew Owor, Rugby Africa’s Vice President has noted that teams are already preparing for competitions to resume.
“With the first round of competitions potentially kicking off in March, teams are already preparing, and by all accounts, both unions and players are thrilled at the opportunity to participate in the game,” Andrew Owor.
The U20 Barthes Trophy, to be hosted by the Kenya Rugby Union in Nairobi, Kenya from March 25 to April 4, 2020, is the first on the calendar. Only Kenya, Namibia, Senegal and Madagascar (top four ranked teams) will take part after which the winner will qualify for the World Rugby Junior World Trophy in September.
This will be followed by the Rugby Africa Cup Repechage to be hosted in West Africa in May with the July international window as a fallback option. This repechage will serve as a qualifier for the 12th slot in the Rugby Africa Cup Pools 2021.
The Rugby Africa Cup Pools for the men will kick off in July at different venues across the continent. It is from these four pools of three teams each that the best two will qualify for the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 which will serve as the final round for the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier for Africa.
The Women’s Cup will run at the same time, with each host union hosting a Women’s 15s test match between themselves and a visiting or neighbouring country.
“This year, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Tunisia are likely to emerge as the host teams, but the real prize goes to the winning teams, who can look forward to a fully revived Women’s 15s in 2022,” predicts Maha Zaoui, Women’s Rugby Manager.
The second international window in November has been earmarked as a fallback option for these competitions.
Rugby Africa Men’s & Women’s Sevens World Cup pre-qualifiers will run through August and September in four regional tournaments, with both men and women’s tournaments hosted in the same venue, on the same dates.
As a safety precaution, Rugby Africa has announced that the entire months of October, November and December will remain open should tournaments be postponed and re-programmed due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Rugby has not yet officially resumed in Uganda pending a decision from the Uganda Rugby Union. However, the Uganda Men’s Sevens have already begun their training preparations for this year’s competitions, mainly the Olympic Games Rugby Sevens Repechage in June.