It’s all system go for this year’s Rugby Africa Cup thats starts on Friday evening as eight participating nations have arrived in the south of France ahead of the competition.

All the eight sides will be seeking to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023.

Namibia will kick off competition by taking on Burkina Faso at Stade Delort with Zimbabwe facing Ivory Coast at the same venue. The tournament will be knockout-based.

At the Aix-en-Provence on Saturday, it will be an East African affair as Uganda will play Kenya and Senegal come up against Algeria later on.

Winners of the initial stages will qualify for the semi-finals of the contests on Wednesday. The Rugby Africa Cup finals will be played on Sunday at the Stade Maurice David.

In his  statement, Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera told World Rugy that;

“It shifts the mindset completely because there are no second chances. Last year we got caught cold against Senegal in the first game and lost by one point, 20-19 [but] thankfully, we still had a second chance,” Odera said.

“Knockout rugby changes the mindset completely. The focus at training really has been on getting the players to do what they’re meant to do the first time over.

“Because in knockout rugby, you have one error from the scrum-half and then maybe an error from the second-row and another error from the full-back and they all add up. If those errors are at crucial moments in the game, you can suddenly find yourselves chasing a game.

“Then you get under pressure and then you start making [more] errors and before you know it, the game’s over and you are out of the tournament.

The tactician added that his side aims to give it all in the competition from the opening fixture.

“So, we are very clear that we’ve got to fire on all cylinders right from the beginning of the match and for the full 80 minutes. It would change the game foreve.

“I think it would change the game forever in Kenya. Not just due to the increased interest and increased financing but for the country, for the players, for the grassroots.

“Our sevens team has done well, and they’ve also commercially positioned Kenya Rugby in a good place where corporations have seen the team as an opportunity.

“But if the Simbas do qualify for Rugby World Cup in France next year, it will change the game forever in Kenya for the better.

“And I think from there, Kenya cann build on this result, and we’ll finally be able maybe to fulfill the potential of Kenya Rugby to compete with the elite teams in the world of rugby.

“So, it would be huge… I’m driven to tears when I think about what it could change.”

Only one team will secure an automatic qualification spot at RWC 2023 up for grabs in France while the losing finalist will still stand a chance to book their ticket to RWC 2023 through the Final Qualification Tournament.

Teams knocked out at the quarter-final or semi-final stage of Rugby Africa Cup will stand no second chance of qualifying for the RWC in Europe next year.

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