France 2023 World Cup is the unlikely Rugby Cranes prize

Thursday July 08 2021
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Making Hay. Rugby Cranes players pictured while- recently in Stellenbosch, South Africa, polishing their skills and fine-tuning their games in preparation for an Olympic qualifier. COURTESY PHOTO

By Deus Bugembe

The inaugural Rugby Africa Cup kicked off on Saturday with games in pools A and B where Namibia and Kenya were stunned by Ivory Coast and Senegal respectively. The pool D and C games are under way this weekend with 12 sides chasing a slot at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

It’s a journey so tough but with a priceless reward. Namibia have navigated it to six World Cup appearances in a row as African Champions. Kenya have gone as far as the repechage tournament only to lose miserably to Germany, Canada and Hong Kong in 2018. Uganda starts the same journey for the umpteenth

time chasing the improbable promised land. The youthful Cranes side will have to win the Rugby Africa Cup for a direct ticked to France or finish second to push their luck through a global qualifying round. Losses to Kenya and Namibia were a game changer that has two sides to it. It’s a question of if the powerhouses are losing their grip or the underdogs stepping up.

The Cranes are favourites to make it out of Pool C which has Ghana and Algeria. They cannot afford to take the visitors for granted having seen what happened to Kenya and Namibia. Vice-captain Brian Odongo is in buoyant mood ahead of Saturday’s opener. “We are ready for this game and the fans should expect a solid performance,” he said.

The top two sides from each group will progress to the quarter finals to derive the semi-finalists and finalists eventually. The winner qualifies for the World Cup while the runner up goes for a qualifying round against nations from different regions.  

Pools, ties and results

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Pool A: Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Namibia 
Pool B: Kenya, Senegal, Zambia
Pool C: Uganda, Ghana, Algeria
Pool D: B. Faso, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
Pool C fixtures
July 10, Kyadondo
Uganda vs. Ghana 
July 14, Kyadondo
Algeria vs. Ghana
July 18, Kyadondo
Algeria vs. Uganda
Weekend Results 
Ivory Coast 25-13 Namibia
Kenya 19-20 Senegal
Kenya vs. Zambia   (tbc)


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