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While the rest of the rugby world remained quiet over the past weekend, the main activity occurred in Africa where six nations competed for the Gold Cup. The teams were Namibia (5-0), Kenya (3-1-1), Uganda (2-1-1), Zimbabwe (1-0-3), Tunisia (1-0-3) and Senegal (0-0-4).
For many years, Namibia have ranked as the second highest African XV after the Springboks. They participated in the past five Rugby World Cups, qualifying since 1999, and continuing up to the RWC 2015 in England. They have never won a RWC match, with a record of 0-19. They lost by one point 17-16 to Georgia in England.
In this 2017 Africa Gold Cup, the surprise team of the tournament are the improving Ugandans, the tie against perennial second place Kenya. Even if Uganda win their final contest against Zimbabwe, and achieve the same record as Kenya at 3-1-1, they will finish third in the Gold Cup with fewer bonus points. Still, the Ugandans demonstrated progress over prior years, most notably, their decent sevens play in the HSBC World Rugby Cape Town Sevens tournament.
The Namibian win is solely for this year’s Africa’s Cup and not as a qualifier for the Africa 1 spot in the 2019 RWC in Japan. That event will occur next year in the 2018 Africa Gold Cup. The winner – probably, Namibia – will play in the same pool as New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, and a repechage winner.
Below the Gold Cup tournament is the four nation, African Silver Cup, which features Botswana (#64), Ivory Coast (#53), Madagascar (#45), and Morocco (#50). The winner of the Silver Cup advances into the Gold Cup tournament next year. A third-tier African Bronze Cup exists with three national fifteens. Finally, twelve other African nations compete in four groups of three sides each.