Rugby Africa Silver Cup kicks off on Sunday with six nations competing

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Madagascar taking on Senegal in the Silver Cup

The Rugby Africa Silver Cup, launching on July 8, is the second division rugby fifteens competition in Africa featuring six teams eager to earn promotion to the Rugby Africa Gold Cup.

The losing team will be relegated and replaced by Ghana, the winner of this year’s Bronze Cup.

The tournament starts with six qualification pool matches played between July 8 and 14: one qualification pool for the North and one for the South.

The North pool matches will be played in Toulouse, France, between Algeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal; while the South pool matches will be held in Mufulira, Zambia, where teams from Zambia, Botswana and Madagascar will compete for a place in the final.

The winner of each pool will then meet in the final on August 25th. The location of the final will be decided once the group matches are finished and will depend on ranking.

The Ivory Coast returns in force after their narrow defeat against Morocco last year, determined to clinch their place at the Gold Cup.

The Ivorian coach, Edgar Babou, said: “As this Silver Cup tournament approaches, we are in the final weeks of preparation for the individual players and the team is sure to follow.

“Our players are keen. The standard in this tournament will be very high. We are anticipating intense and serious exchanges.

“Our commitment is unwavering and we are ready for the challenge. The geographical location this year is a double-edged sword for us.

“As we are far from Africa, we hope that the large Ivorian community living in France, as well as former internationals, will turn out to support us and give us a boost.”

Algeria is not an opponent to be taken lightly.

“We are very happy to be in Silver Cup with our Senegalese and Ivorian brothers,” said Sofian Ben Hassen, President of the Algerian Rugby Federation.

“The North pool is a tougher one than the South pool in my opinion so I think the winner of our pool will be the outright winner of the Silver Cup.

“It’s up to us Algerians to play our game right. Senegal, as a team, is accustomed to this kind of competition, they have a lot of experience and Ivory Coast was a hair’s breadth away from qualifying for the Gold Cup last year.

“This is our second fifteens competition, we are making slow but sure progress and I am confident that, no matter what happens, we will come out of this tournament a better team.”

The Lions of Senegal in action

The Lions of Senegal in action

The Botswana Vultures prepared in South Africa and they are impatient for the start of the tournament.

“We had a preparatory match in South Africa recently, where we were part of their June 16, Day of the African Child Celebrations,” shared Lesedi Keekae, current president of Botswana Rugby Union.

“The coaches had an opportunity to try out new combinations and new players as they try to blood new talent with the experienced campaigners.

“We look forward to good top-class rugby and competition, and well-organized tournament. We know well that Zambia has been a good host in the past”.

As the host team, the challenge is all the more important for Zambia.

“The team has had a roller coaster ride without much luck in the Silver Cup having first played there in 2015, relegated back to Bronze in 2016, qualified in 2017,” the communications director of the Zambian federation, Tom Chaloba, stated.

“In early June, the team had a test game against Zimbabwe which gave the technical bench time to gauge their player’s readiness for the big game.

“To ensure sustainability in line with team preps, the league this weekend will have the Mopani 15s National Rugby Tournament where coaches will have one final assessment of players before the Silver Cup games.

“Our biggest expectation is to stay in the Silver category and later to advance to the Gold Cup. To this effect, we call upon all stakeholders to rally behind the team from kick off to the last whistle and ensure there is no lack of morale”

The Zambian federation is glad to host the Silver Cup and is more than up for the challenge.

“I would first of all like to thank the Zambian federation for hosting the South part of the tournament. They have worked perfectly with Rugby Africa to ensure a highly professional tournament.” acknowledged Abdelaziz Bougja, President of Rugby Africa.

“We are aware that the format of the tournament is different from last year, and that the choice of venue for the games of the North pool has caused our African supporters to ask questions.

“We always give preference to matches on African soil, but this year, with no country volunteering to organise the event  and given that many players from these three national teams go on to progress their careers in France, we turned to our partner, the French Rugby Federation.

“I’d like to thank the President of the FFR and the Occitania league for welcoming us to the land of rugby.

“We are fully convinced that the local organizing team is doing an excellent job, and that the Ivorian, Algerian and Senegalese communities of France will be delighted to attend these international meetings.”

There will be real-time commentary on all the matches of the Rugby Africa Silver Cup on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Kenya make four changes for RWC qualifier against Uganda

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Vincent Moses (with head gear) in action during the 34-16 win over Uganda at the Legends Rugby Club in Kampala

The Kenya Simbas have made four changes to the side that started last weekend’s 45-36 win over Zimbabwe at the RFUEA Ground as they brace for the Gold Cup’s East African derby against Uganda in Nairobi on Saturday.

The fixture also doubles up as the Elgon Cup second leg, the Simbas holding a 34-16 lead from the first leg in Kampala on May 26.

Jacob Ojee and Vincent Mose make their first starts of the campaign after missing the opening two rounds due to academic and work related commitments, Ojee slotting in on the left wing with Mose starting at fullback.

Former Kenya Sevens international Felix Ayange is handed his first test cap, starting on the right wing.

Simon Muniafu

Simon Muniafu

Oliver Mang’eni is reinstated to the starting line after coming off the bench last weekend, taking the place of Malcolm Onsando who is rested for this tie alongside Edmund Anya, Tony Onyango, Max Kang’eri and Curtis Lilako who came on as second half replacements last weekend.

Biko Adema drops to the bench.

Hillary Mwanjilwa is also in line for a potential debut after being named on the bench alongside France based Simon Muniafu who could make his first appearance of the season.

The Simbas come into this match off the back of two wins, a 28-24 win away to Morocco on June 23 and last weekend’s cliffhanger in Nairobi against Zimbabwe which ended in a 45-36 victory for the side coached by Ian Snook.

Kenya team to play Uganda on Saturday June 7 in Nairobi

15.Vincent Mose (Impala Saracens), 14. Felix Ayange (Kabras Sugar/debut), 13. Peter Kilonzo (KCB), 12. Darwin Mukidza (KCB/Vice Captain), 11. Jacob Ojee (KCB), 10. Isaac Adimo (Kenya Harlequin), 9. Samson Onsomu (Impala Saracens), 1. Patrick Ouko (Homeboyz), 2. Colman Were (Kabras Sugar), 3. Joseph Odero (Kabras Sugar), 4. Andrew Chogo (Kabras Sugar), 5. Oliver Mang’eni (KCB), 6. George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar), 7. Elkeans Musonye (Strathmore Leos), 8. Davis Chenge (KCB/Captain) REPLACEMENTS 16. Peter Karia (KCB), 17. Moses Amusala (KCB), 18. Hillary Mwanjilwa (Kabras Sugar/potential debut), 19. Simon Muniafu (Decazeville, France), 20. Dalmus Chituyi (Homeboyz), 21. Martin Owilah (KCB), 22. Xavier Bett (Impala Saracens), 23. Biko Adema (Nondescripts)

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Henry Hutchison returns for Australia ahead of 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

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Henry Hutchison in action for Australia

The Australian Men’s Sevens team have secured the signature of speedster Henry Hutchison ahead of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

The 2016 World Rugby Sevens Rookie of the Year has been lured back to the Sevens fold by coach Tim Walsh after being granted an early release from his contract by the Melbourne Rebels.

The 21-year old has an amazing strike rate in Rugby Sevens having scored 52 tries in 91 games over two seasons, that included selection at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Hutchison played for the Australian Schoolboys in 2013 before earning selection in the Australian U20s the following season. His rapid rise continued after starring for Randwick in Sydney’s Shute Shield, before making his debut for the Australian Men’s Sevens team in their Olympic Qualifiers in July 2015 under the tutelage of then-interim coach Tim Walsh.

Australian Men’s Sevens signing Henry Hutchison said: “I’m really excited to be back with the Sevens team, especially so close to a Sevens World Cup.

“I had a really good time down in Melbourne and learned a lot from the Rebels players and coaching staff so hopefully I can apply a bit of that to my game in Sevens.

“I have to thank the Rebels and Walshy for sorting it all out to get me here before the World Cup as they knew that was important to me,” Hutchison said.

Australian Men’s Sevens coach Tim Walsh said: “To attract talent such as Henry back into the Sevens program fortifies the strength and attractiveness of the Sevens game.

“Henry is a proven performer on the Sevens World Series and really compliments the squad by providing finishing speed, ruthless intent over the ball as well as being a jack-of-all trades master of some.

“Dave (Wessels) and Baden (Stephenson) at the Rebels were fantastic to deal with after we expressed interest in getting Henry back into the program. We have the new purpose-built High Performance Sevens headquarters at Rugby Australia as well as a collaborative approach with the Wallabies, Super and Club Rugby.

“The World Cup in San Francisco is the final stop for the season and the format is uniquely knockout.  Every game simulates a final and everything is on the line from the first kick off.

“The teams who do not melt in the pressure moments will finish on the podium,” Walsh said.

Hutchison playing for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby

Hutchison playing for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby

Australia will play the winner of France and Jamaica in their first match of the Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Friday July 20, with the winner progressing through to the Championship Quarter-Finals.

Henry Hutchison (FACT FILE)

DOB: 12/02/1997

Club: Randwick NSW

Australian Sevens debut: Cape Town 2015

Australian Sevens caps: 17

Australian Sevens points: 260 (52 tries)

Representative honours: Australian Schoolboys (2013), Australian U20s (2014 and 2017)

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