35,000 watch Madagascar set up Namibia match
Hosts Madagascar and Namibia got their Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying campaign off to a winning start as more than 35,000 fans packed into the Mahamasina Stadium for the first round of African qualifying.
On an entertaining opening round of the Confédération Africaine de Rugby (CAR) Championship Division 1B in Antananarivo, the hosts upset the odds to defeat Morocco 35-28 in a thrilling encounter that sets up a mouth-watering final against Namibia.
Namibia, participants at Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, were given a scare by a competitive Senegal team, before eventually coming through to win 20-18 and maintain their ambition of qualifying for a fifth successive Rugby World Cup.
The Final will be played on July 8 when IRB Vice Chairman Oregan Hoskins will accompany the Webb Ellis Cup to the venue for a match that is set to draw an even bigger crowd.
The CAR Division 1B event kicks off a three-season process of promotion and relegation between the three divisions in the CAR Championship and culminate with one team directly qualifying for England 2015 as winners of the flagship CAR Division 1A Championship in 2014.
Meanwhile, the winner of the CAR Division IC Championship in Botswana on July 22-29 featuring Ivory Coast , Cameroon, Zambia, Mauritius, Nigeria and Botswana will progress to Division 1B in 2013 with the winner of that event promoted to Division 1A in 2014.
The runner-up from Division 1A in 2014 competition will have a second chance of making it to Rugby World Cup via the 2015 Repechage process and with South Africa automatic qualifiers via their position at New Zealand 2011 there is the possibility that Africa could have three representatives at Rugby World Cup 2015.