Today we close the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 tournament. Organising a competition of this magnitude is never easy, it requires a lot of organisation and preparation. However, we can say that the 2022 edition was a success for all stakeholders and we are very pleased with this.
Organising a tournament elsewhere than on the African continent was not a first. We wanted to try the adventure with the France 2023 organising committee and we are delighted with the result. In Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, the teams benefited from excellent reception conditions, allowing them to offer a high level of performance on the field. This is a notion that is dear to us and that we have been prioritising for years in Africa.
This tournament has allowed us to reap the rewards of all our efforts. We were able to witness matches of a high intensity and quality never seen before. The level of the teams increased significantly and the matches were particularly well balanced. All this is not due to chance but rather to the work of Rugby Africa, the unions and World Rugby who are moving forward hand in hand to propose increasingly qualitative standards.
This Rugby Africa Cup 2022 is an important turning point for African rugby. In terms of quality of the game but also in terms of media visibility, through the many media partners and broadcasters. This media exposure has allowed the teams to show what they work hard for. They showed a very good image of African rugby and we are proud to have been able to prove that Africa is a great rugby continent. The teams put on a memorable show, which delighted the public and the viewers. The rugby quality did not take long to be noticed as some players have already been contacted by European clubs. Our technical staff also impressed and have attracted the interest of competition organisers and academies in Europe.
The future is smiling on African rugby, it is up to us to make it happen. To do this, we will continue to work tirelessly to make rugby a popular sport on our continent. Our first focus will of course be on the competition, attracting new fans in Africa and elsewhere and making broadcasters and partners want to believe in us. This will allow us to stand out and show the quality of our growing rugby.
One of our goals will be to secure a second direct World Cup qualification place for the African continent. We have to prove to World Rugby that our teams are good enough to join the best competition in the world.
Our second and certainly most important focus will be, as always, the development of African rugby. Women’s rugby, youth rugby, regional competitions and training are all subjects on which we have made a lot of progress in recent years and we will continue to do so.
We can be proud of what we have achieved, especially during the Rugby Africa Cup 2022. For this success, we would like to thank in particular the France 2023 organising committee headed by Mr Claude Atcher, Mr Renaud Muselier, President of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region, Mrs Martine Vassal, President of the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis and of the Bouches du Rhône department, Mr Benoît Ménard, Mayor of Marseille, and Mr Jean-Louis Ménard, President of the Aix-Marseille-Provence region. The Mayor of Marseille Benoît Payan and Mrs. Samia Ghali, Deputy Mayor, the City of Marseille and Mrs. Maryse Joissains-Masini, Mayor of Aix-en-Provence, as well as her city, for their hospitality. We also thank World Rugby and all the participating unions and teams. I would like to thank the people who keep African rugby alive, the Rugby Africa team, its Executive Committee, the referees and supervisors, SARU and FFR for their constant support and our partners.
Finally, we would like to thank all the fans who followed this 2022 edition and we look forward to seeing them soon for new African competitions.
President of Rugby Africa, member of the World Rugby Executive Committee