The Kenyan Lionesses, Ugandan Lady Cranes and Malagasy Makis women’s rugby teams are on their way to Johannesburg and will be joined by the Springbok Women’s team to play in the quadrangular tournament providing the region’s automatic qualifier for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021.
Together with their partner Société Générale, Rugby Africa’s official bank, and with the support of World Rugby, Rugby Africa will organise the first qualifiers for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Africa, the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup, at the Bosman Stadium in Johannesburg, starting on August 9th, National Women’s Day in South Africa, and finishing on August 17th, 2019.
Scheduled to appear are four teams competing to win their place to play in New Zealand including South Africa, the host country of the tournament, Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar. Considering that there isn’t yet an established African ranking for women’s fifteen-a-side rugby, the four fifteens teams were chosen on the basis of the level and frequency of play of the female players. Each team will play 3 matches on three different days and a points classification will be established. The winner of the tournament will qualify directly for the World Cup whilst the second-best team will play a match against a team from South America and join the global repechage tournament if victorious.
Madagascar have long been known as a genuine rugby nation in the men’s game and the dawning of a new era in the women’s game has caught the public’s imagination, too. This is their first participation in an international women’s fifteen-a-side tournament.
“Rugby Africa was right to invite us to this tournament. We have been waiting impatiently for this moment, to know where we are at compared to the others and to know if we have a chance to qualify,” says Madagascar head coach Ravoavahy Lanto Nirina, who is also in charge of the national sevens team.
“It’s fantastic! Whenever there is a team that stands out in Madagascar, we talk about it and people are very interested. It’s a great honour for me to go out there and take the girls (to South Africa). It will be very, very high level and that’s why we cannot wait to be there!” said Nirina.
South Africa’s last participation in a Women’s Rugby World Cup dates back to 2014 in France, and needless to say, that captain Balbawa Latsha is determined to lead her team all the way to New-Zealand.
“It will be a massive challenge to qualify for the World Cup, but I think we are up to it. There is a great buzz in the team, and we are all very excited about this opportunity. Our supporters certainly won’t be disappointed with the plans and our commitment to the cause.
“We have been working very hard over the last few days, and we are very focused on the task at hand,” Latsha said.
As part of their preparation for the tournament, the Kenyan Lionesses and the Uganda Lady Cranes participated in this year’s Elgon Cup fixtures where Kenya emerged victorious in both home and away matches with a 77-18 aggregate win.
Kenyan Head Coach Felix Oloo said “We’ve been polishing up on the rusty areas we identified during the Elgon Cup and also ensuring each player understands their role in the team. We have an on-going camp and we’re confident that the selected team will make Kenya proud.”
World Rugby appointed three ladies referees for the international event, namely Ashleigh Murray from South Africa, Saudah Adiru from Uganda and Precious Pazani from Zimbabwe. “We have been putting a strong emphasis on our referee development program over the last three years and one of the main objectives was to ensure gender representativity in this program, so we are truly delighted that our ladies referees are being given recognition on the international stage. It’s a fantastic achievement for them and I have no doubt that they will perform their duties brilliantly.” Khaled Babbou, President of Rugby Africa said.
“I wish the four teams good luck in this Qualifier event, I know that they have prepared very hard for it and we are very proud to launch this first continental women’s fifteen-a-side competition,” Babbo added.
Follow live matches online: https://livestream.com/
Bosman Stadium, Brakpan, Johannesburg, South Africa
Madagascar vs Kenya
South Africa vs Uganda
Kenya vs Uganda
Madagascar vs South Africa
Madagascar vs Uganda
South Africa vs Kenya