Namibia poised for Rugby World Cup return, tall order for Uganda

Wednesday June 10 2020

Tango. Rugby Cranes stars Pius Ogena (L) and

Tango. Rugby Cranes stars Pius Ogena (L) and Ian Munyani (R) double team a Kenyan during last year’s Elgon Cup. Uganda must work harder to make the Rugby World Cup grade. PHOTO | EDDIE CHICCO  

By DEUS BUGEMBE

Since the first Rugby World Cup (RWC) in 1987 where Australia co-hosted with New Zealand, only four African nations namely South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast have qualified to compete for the Webb Ellis Cup.

Nine World Cups have been held in the period with the latest last year in Japan where South Africa won it for the third time.

The last six showpieces have also had only the three-time winners and Namibia as the only African representative. Zimbabwe was at the first two (1987, 1991) while Ivory Coast only qualified in 1995.

It still remains a mystery when Africa will have a new face or more slots, like in the Sevens (7s) where Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa all played at the 2018 World Cup in San Francisco.

As South Africa continues to qualify, courtesy of making the quarterfinals of the previous events, Namibia makes the grade as Africa Cup champions on eight occasions, each coming in a (RWC) qualifying year.

It’s bound to be the same story come 2023 when the World Cup goes to France. South Africa have already qualified while Namibia will have to repeat their old trick of winning the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup, according to the 2023 qualification road map released by World Rugby (WR) on Monday.

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With the customary lack of competition from the likes of Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Morocco among others on the continent to unseat Namibia, it looks like the latter will rejoin the World Champions in France for the pair’s seventh time.

WR can either give Africa more slots or devise ways of helping the rest of the continent compete with Namibia who keep widening the gulf in class.

With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers.

dbugembe@ug.nationmedia.com

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