RWC dream still alive for Kenya and Zimbabwe
Kenya and Zimbabwe have both assured themselves of a place in the next round of African regional qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 after recording victories in the semi-finals of the Confederation Africaine de Rugby (CAR) Africa Cup Division 1A in Madagascar on Tuesday.
On a compelling afternoon of matches in front of 40,000 Rugby-mad fans in Madagascar on 10 July, Kenya defeated Uganda 52-11 and Zimbabwe eased past the hosts 35-18 to reach Saturday’s final and a chance to be crowned champions of Africa for 2013.
In doing so, both teams have also retained a place in CAR’s Division 1A for 2014 and will join 2013 Division IB winners Namibia in the four-team top division next year. The winners of that tournament will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Africa 1 in Pool C alongside champions New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Europe 1. The runner up will enter the repechage process.
While Kenyan and Zimbabwean dreams of competing on Rugby’s biggest stage live on, Saturday will mark the end of the road for either Uganda or Madagascar with the loser relegated to Division 1B.
That means that all eyes will be on the third place play-off, with another capacity crowd guaranteed.
The CAR Africa Cup has a close affiliation with Rugby World Cup. Rugby’s showcase event has provided the financial engine for the IRB to invest GBP7.32 million in partnership with CAR between 2009-2012 in competition, high performance and strategic programmes. That investment has helped African nations become more competitive on the world stage, and introduce more people to the sport.
Oceania: PNG face Cook Islands for play-off berth
Meanwhile, in the FORU regional qualifying event, Papua New Guinea will play Cook Islands in the decider of the Oceania Cup on Saturday.
The winner will earn the right to face Fiji in a winner-takes-all Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier next year.
Hosts PNG followed up their opening round victory over Solomon Islands with a 39-32 win over Tahiti in an entertaining match on Tuesday. Cook Islands defeated Tahiti 38-5 in their first match and then eased past Solomon Islands 39-12.