Nigeria Rugby National team, Black Stallions will on Sunday lock horns with Burkina Faso Rugby team in the semi-final of the ongoing Africa Regional Sevens Tournament in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire after recording three straight victories in Pool B in the opening day of the competition, SportingLife.ng can report.
The Black Stallions began her campaign on Saturday at the INJS pitch on a winning note with a 24-0 victory over Niger. The coach Bronson Gabriel Weir tutored side also whitewashed Benin Republic 31-0 before beating Algeria 10-0 to top the group with 9 points. Algeria qualified alongside Nigeria after finishing second with seven points, while Niger and Benin placed third and fourth with 5 and 3 points respectively. Burkina Faso on the other hand finished second with 7 points behind Côte d’ivoire, who leads Pool A with 9 points.
Burkina Faso had defeated Mali 12-0 before overcoming Guinea 40-5 to set up a semi-final clash with Nigeria. Mali finished 3rd with 5 points, while Guinea placed 4th with 3 points. Africa Regional Sevens Tournament in Abidjan is one of the two regional rugby sevens tournaments launched by Rugby Africa for the first round of qualifications for the men’s 2020 Olympic Games.
On the 29th and 30th of September, the national selections of Burundi, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho will meet at the Bujumbura Tempête Stadium to meet the same challenge.
In addition to being promoted in the Africa Men’s Sevens 2019 tournament to choose the African representative for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, these tournaments represent an opportunity for Rugby Africa’s technical staff to evaluate talent and provides a gateway to the first level of competition for the fifteens, the Rugby Africa Bronze Cup. The aim is also to maximise the benefit of these opportunities where players get together to organise training at all levels around the tournament.
To this end, Salem Attalah, a former Top 14 referee in France, is running a skill-building course for North and West African referees. The coaches were able to benefit from a level 2 training course devoted to rugby sevens. Rugby Africa’s medical committee is also working on a first-aid training course for rugby as well as a more advanced Level 2 course for all team doctors. The declared priority for Rugby Africa is the safety of the players and its objective is to ensure that an appropriate medical response is available in all the rugby federations.
Rugby African President, Mr. Abdulazeez Bhouja, who is among dignitaries across the continent present in Abidjan said: “We are getting ready for a fantastic celebration of rugby in Abidjan and I congratulate all the federations present, which, for the most part, have limited resources and have made enormous efforts to mobilize their teams and make the trip. Their passion of rugby is strong and the stakes are high for the teams participating in the tournament. Ivory Coast and Nigeria will be keen to prove that they deserve to return to the African tournament where they used to play; but all of the other teams will be doing their best to thwart them and take their place! I am also eager to discover the Guinean selection who will be participating for the first time in one of our competitions after joining Rugby Africa at the end of 2016.”