The William Webb Ellis Trophy, symbolic of the winner of the Rugby World Cup, once again resides in Africa. South Africa won its second world title at the most recent Rugby World Cup at Japan in 2019.

Surprisingly, the Springboks are just the fourth betting choice at Vegas sportsbooks to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France at +550. Perennial contenders New Zealand are given favorite’s odds of +200.

In the meantime, part of the objective of Rugby Africa is to continue to grow the game across the continent. Along with South Africa, Namibia also participated in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The Namibians were making their fifth RWC appearance since first qualifying for the tournament in 1999. 

Kenya made it to the final stages of qualifying for the 2019 event before being eliminated. The Kenyans were one of four nations to participate in the Intercontinental Repechage final tournament in Marseille, France. Kenya went 0-3. The Kenyans lost 42-17 to Hong Kong, 43-6 to Germany and 65-19 to Canada, the eventual qualifiers from this tourney.

Kenyan Woman Recognized

Peris Mukoko of Kenya and Abigail Mnikwa of Zimbabwe were recently announced as the recipients of the African Women in Rugby 2021 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships. 

Passionate about promoting young women in rugby, Mukoko comes with all the trimmings of leading this initiative. Currently a board member of the Kenya Rugby Union and a certified World Rugby licensed educator, Mukoko is the first female in Kenya and third in Africa to attain this level.

She has also served as a Rugby Africa Unstoppable Campaign Ambassador (2020) and an active Level 2 rugby referee since 2008. Recently co-opted into Rugby Africa’s Referee Committee as Interim Referee Association representative, Mukoko is ready to take her knowledge and leadership skills to the next level.

“I am thrilled to be accepted on this prestigious scholarship,” Mukoko said. “This scholarship will certainly aid me in building my skills as a mentor, as well as my project management skills. Running the proposed programme for young girls will be challenging for me but it will enable me to grow as an administrator in the game of rugby and as a person. 

“I hope to gain a greater understanding of grassroots rugby in Kenya while traveling, as the proposed program is targeted to run outside of Nairobi.”

Mnikwa has worked within the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) for the past 14 years as both a physiotherapist and sports administrator. Serving on the Zimbabwe Rugby Union board, Mnikwa is also Zimbabwe women’s rugby chairperson, chairs the ZRU Covid-19 relief committee and is a World Rugby medical trainer.

Only recently, Mnikwa was appointed to the Rugby Africa women rugby advisory sub- committee for leadership, training, and conferences.

This amazing opportunity qualifies these two women from Africa to join the remaining 10 women from around the world, who will each receive a £10,000 scholarship for leadership development support for formal or informal education, conferences, forums, mentoring and best practice study tours. Each scholarship will be tailored to meet the professional development needs of the successful applicants.

The scholarships are open to women who are currently involved in rugby at a governance level (Union/Region Board Member) or are currently involved in rugby at a senior leadership level (reporting to CEO at third tier and above).

Rugby World Cup 2023 Qualifying To Begin

Plans have been finalized to get the African qualifying process underway for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The Rugby Africa Cup Repechage has confirmed both its dates and location. The tournament will be hosted by the Burkina Faso Rugby Union in the capital city of Ouagadougou from June 5-13.

Four teams are expected to participate in a round robin tournament over three match days – Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, and Nigeria. After the dust settles and with the results in, the winner of the tournament will join Pool D of the Rugby Africa Cup, to be hosted in Tunisia in July. Pool D consists of the Zimbabwe and Tunisia national teams.

Kenya is part of Group B along with Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire. The top two teams of each of the four pools will progress to the final round of the Rugby Africa Cup in 2022. Thereafter, those top eight African teams will compete for one direct qualification to the Rugby World Cup and one slot in the repechage tournament.