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2023 World Cup: why the qualifying tournament for the Africa zone will be played in France


In July 2022, the eight African countries still in the running to join the pool of France and the All Blacks will compete in France. “A taste of the World Cup”, rejoices France 2023.

The France 2023 organizing committee proposed to Rugby Africa, which accepted, to host the final qualifying tournament for the eight African teams in July 2022. Place Afrique 1, the first African qualifier for the Rugby World Cup, will therefore be played in France“, Revealed Claude Atcher, the CEO of the World Cup, at the beginning of the month.

A novelty that is justified for several reasons, confides to Figaro Nicolas Hourquet, Deputy Director for International Affairs for France 2023. “First, the winner of this tournament will find himself in the pool of France, to face the host country and New Zealand. So there is already a sporting link with the competition. Then, the FFR has always been very close to Rugby Africa, has always contributed to the development of African rugby. In agreement with them, we seized the opportunity to host this tournament in France to highlight the remarkable progress made by African rugby over the past ten years.

This is the opportunity to show the French whose grandparents or parents are from these countries, that rugby is played there. That these countries are at the gates of the World Cup.

Nicolas Hourquet, Deputy Director for International Affairs for France 2023

Nicolas Hourquet adds a third argument. “This is the opportunity to show the French whose grandparents or parents are from these countries, that rugby is played there. That these countries are at the gates of the World Cup. And if it isn’t this time, it will be four or eight years from now. This Tournament can make people who may never have been to a rugby match want to go. And, why not, also make them want to come back.

The field is ideal from this perspective, with four French-speaking selections – Algeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast – still in the running, against four English-speaking nations (Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe). And the Deputy Director for International Affairs for France 2023 to highlight “a magnificent Algeria-Senegal in the quarter-finals“. The other posters will pit Namibia and Burkina Faso, Uganda and Kenya, Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire. “It’s going to be very nice, I’m sure it will be a very, very nice tournament, continues Nicolas Hourquet. A taste of Mondial with supporters with ties, family roots. We can say that the World Cup in France will begin in this first half of July 2022 with this qualifying tournament.

This Qualifying Tournament will take place during the international window so that the provision of internationals is mandatory.

Nicolas Hourquet, Deputy Director for International Affairs for France 2023

A tournament that promises to be of high caliber because it is placed during the summer tour of the great nations. “So during the international window for the provision of internationals to be mandatory, underlines with relish Nicolas Hourquet. With many players playing in France, especially in ProD2, National and Federal, the coaches will be able to field the best possible teams.“Suddenly, instead of the seven meetings initially planned (quarter-finals, semi-finals, final), the organizing committee of France 2023 decided to go up to”twelve meetings“. “Rugby Africa was guaranteed that, for the first time, we would play rankings matches so that they could establish a ranking from 1 to 8.

It remains to be seen where these decisive matches will take place. “We don’t have the location yet. We will send out a call for applications in early October. But we need two stadiums, close to each other, and rather in the South of France“, Enumerates Nicolas Hourquet, specifying that it will not be”not necessarily two stadiums selected for the World Cup“. “Already communities are calling us with their feet», Rejoices the head of International Affairs, who is targeting speakers with a capacity of 10,000 spectators.

I dream of a France-Algeria on Thursday September 21, 2023 in Marseille. It would be an incredible symbol.

Claude Atcher, CEO of France 2023

Mid-July 2022, we will therefore know which of these eight teams will integrate the pool of France and New Zealand. A few months ago, Claude Atcher, had confided to Figaro, a preference. “I dream of a France-Algeria on Thursday September 21, 2023 in Marseille. It would be an incredible symbol.“In the corridors of the organizing committee, we bet on”a remarkable moment of sport, of communion. To show that rugby is a vector of brotherhood. Because rugby wants that. It’s in its nature, in its DNA. There is never violence in the stands, only sharing. Such a poster would show that rugby crosses lines to bring people together.

However, this is still far from being done. The young selection with the two lions, which has never qualified for the Rugby World Cup, will have to win three matches next summer to validate its ticket. Or, at least, reach the final, to join the repechage tournament (against an Asian team, a team from Oceania and a European selection) which will award in November 2022 the 20e and last ticket for France 20123.

For this purpose, Bernard Laporte had at the time encouraged the French players eligible for the Algerian selection to take the plunge. “We have very close links with the Algerian Federation and we try to meet their needs. Whoever is at the gates of the France team will want to play for the Blues, and it makes sense. On the other hand, the one who is far from the France team, he must be made aware and tell him that he has the possibility of playing for the Algerian team. It is a realistic project, not utopian, to be able to qualify for 2023“, Underlined the president of the FFR.

The quarter-finals of the Africa Zone Qualifying Tournament
Namibia – Burkina Faso
Zimbabwe – Ivory Coast
Senegal – Algeria
Uganda – Kenya

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