RWC 2015 Dreams Alive for Kenya and Zimbabwe in Africa Cup

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Kenya and Zimbabwe are assured a place in the next round of Africa regional qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 after recording victories in the semi-finals of the Confederation Africaine de Rugby (CAR) Africa Cup Division 1A in Madagascar on Tuesday.

On a compelling afternoon of matches in front of 40,000 Rugby-mad fans in Madagascar, Kenya defeated Uganda 52-11 and Zimbabwe eased past the hosts 35-18 to reach Saturday’s final and a chance to be crowned champions of Africa for 2013.

In doing so, both teams have also retained a place in CAR’s Division 1A for 2014 and will join 2013 Division IB winners Namibia in the four-team top division next year. The winners of that tournament will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Africa 1 in Pool C alongside champions New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Europe 1. The runner up will enter the repechage process.

While Kenyan and Zimbabwean dreams of competing on Rugby’s biggest stage live on, Saturday will mark the end of the road for either Uganda or Madagascar with the loser relegated to Division 1B. Therefore, the third-place play-off will be of significant interest, not least to what promises to be a capacity crowd who will be willing on the home team.

CAR Chairman Abdelaziz Bougja said: “The CAR African Cup has once again proven to be a compelling competition at all levels, reaching out to new audiences and fans across a continent that has seen a 33 per cent increase in participation since 2007.”

“Congratulations to Kenya and Zimbabwe for booking their place in the next round of Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying. All eyes will be on Madagascar and Uganda to see who will keep the dream alive and I would like to wish both teams all the very best.”

The CAR Africa Cup has a close affiliation with Rugby World Cup. Rugby’s showcase event has provided the financial engine for the IRB to invest GBP7.32 million in partnership with CAR between 2009-2012 in competition, high performance and strategic programmes to ensure that African nations become more competitive on the world stage, that more people can participate and engage with the sport and in order that the awareness and profile of Rugby continues throughout the Region.

PNG face Cook Islands for Oceania play-off berth

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea will play Cook Islands in the decider of the Oceania Cup on Saturday and the right to face Fiji in the winner-takes-all Oceania Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier next year.

Hosts Papua New Guinea followed up their opening round victory over Solomon Islands with a 39-32 win over Tahiti in an entertaining match on Tuesday. Cook Islands defeated Tahiti 38-5 in their first match and then eased past Solomon Islands 39-12.

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