African qualifiers for 2023 Rugby World Cup to be played in France

Rugby Ball Laying in Grass (Photo by Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

France has been selected to host the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup (RAC2022), the final qualifying round for African teams for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, beating other applications from Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

“Following a call for applications launched to all African member federations of World Rugby as well as to France 2023, the Rugby Africa commissions have reviewed the submissions in the light of very precise criteria to evaluate the offers and enable Rugby Africa’s Executive Committee to choose the host country of the Rugby Africa Cup 2022. Through a voting process, the candidacy of France 2023 was eventually selected,” Rugby Afrique, the continental sport governing body, said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: A rugby ball laying in grass on a pitch. /Getty Images

Rugby Afrique said the well-being, health and safety of the players and staff remained its key priority, adding that France will host a tournament of the highest international standards in all spheres, in terms of infrastructure and COVID-19 protocols and regulations.

“With a long tradition of hosting Rugby Africa tournaments and activities, France and Rugby Africa are already in a close collaboration process which will provide the 8 competing teams with an exceptional tournament and ideal hosting conditions to concentrate on a single goal, win the final match and qualify directly for Rugby World Cup 2023 which will also take place in France.”

Rugby Afrique president Khaled Babbou said holding the qualifiers in France will allow Africa to show fans from all continents the progress and quality of African rugby.

“France is a great rugby nation, and France 2023 will be able to highlight Rugby Africa’s most important tournament to date. Indeed, these qualifications bring together 8 teams for the first time. It is a major tournament which promises a high-quality show and which is now attracting the attention of the sports world outside African borders.”

The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 will kick off in July and be held in a knockout format which will see eight teams compete for a place in the final with the winner qualifying for the World Cup. The winner will be placed in Pool A which features hosts France, three-time champions New Zealand, Italy and the Americas 1 qualifier.

The runner-up in the tournament will advance to the Repechage tournament which offers one final attempt to qualify for World Cup.

The opening round will see Namibia, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe take on Burkina Faso, Algeria, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire respectively.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup, the 10th edition of the tournament, will be held between September 8 and October 28, 2023.