The two best teams at the Africa men’s Sevens tournament, which starts on Nov. 8-9 in South Africa will earn a place to compete at the World Sevens Series qualifier tournament in Hong Kong SAR in April.
Rugby Africa Tunisian’s Khaled Babbou says Kenya and South Africa teams will not be considered since they have already sealed their spot in the World Series as core teams.
It opens up the stage for the remaining 12 other teams that will be competing to gain the ticket to play at the premier Sevens rugby circuit in 2020.
A total of 14 African teams compete at the Africa men’s sevens tournament with the gold medal assured of a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The silver medalist will have another opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games by competing in a global repechage tournament that will take place in June 2020.
The participating teams are Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Zambia, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Namibia, Ghana, Botswana, Mauritius, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
“I expect competitive matches and fantastic two days for the players and spectators,” said Babbou on Friday.
Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria will make their debut at the tournament. Zimbabwe is the defending champion with Kenya at its heels as one of the favorite teams in the tournament. South Africa and Kenya are currently competing at the World Series, but only South Africa is already directly qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
With South Africa already qualified for the Olympic Games through the World Series ranking, the continent will have another team join them in the finals in Tokyo, just like it was in Rio, Brazil back in 2016.
Erick Ogweno, team manager of the Kenyan Sevens said on Friday his side is ready to reclaim the title they lost to Zimbabwe last year.
“We are looking forward to reclaiming the cup. This year’s tournament is equally important as it also turns out to be an Olympic qualifier. It will be best for us to seal the Tokyo 2020 ticket while in Johannesburg as opposed to proceeding to the repechage. It’s every athlete’s dream to compete at the Olympics,” said Ogweno.
“The preparations have been ideal, I trust the best we have had in years and this was topped up by the Safari 7s win. The preparations, playing and winning Safari 7s give us the momentum we just required to enable us to reclaim the trophy,” Ogweno added.
Edgar Babou, Cote d’Ivore’s rugby manager, says his side is happy to break the ice and make its debut in the Africa men’s seven’s tournament.
“The tournament is one of the largest in Africa. Despite the absence of our two experienced players Yann Lohore and James Zie we go to perform and gauge against the best African teams. We have young players under 20 years with high potential that we want to see evolve at the highest level,” said Babou. Enditem