Namibia big winner – In August, Africa was split in 2. In the North, the weather was really hot while in the South it was a little bit cooler ; but neither the heat in Morocco nor the rain in Madagascar discouraged spectators from cheering for their teams. In Casablanca, Windhoek or Antananarivo stadiums filled up quickly and the fans were not disappointed by the show !
Indeed, we saw nice rugby this week with high scoring matches ! While teams like Namibia had a fairly easy ride, others like Morocco were in for a struggle.
Once again Namibia came out victorious of the Africa Cup U19. We are kind of used to it by now as it’s not the first time they have snatched the title of African champion. The exposure to bigger international tournaments surely contributes to their superiority and is helping them to retain their pole position among the U19 teams of the continent.
Following this victory, Namibia is therefore qualified for the 2017 Junior World Trophy – an international competition which started in 2008 with 8 teams. Last year, the tournament took place in Zimbabwe and Namibia finished 4th, which was their best ranking since 8 years.
Like their elders, Zimbabwe hang on solidly to the leading group but does not manage to pass in front of Namibia. Nevertheless, the win is never very far and last year they missed their match very closely. Same fight for Kenya always among the top three and seem to be building promising players for their future senior rugby teams.
It would seem that the practice of rugby at school level in the English-speaking countries is a real booster for high performing age-grade teams. Indeed the group A is almost always exclusively made of southern teams like Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. The only English-speaking team being in the group B is Uganda which did not particularly shine this year.
Maybe surprised by the speed and the agility of the Makis of Madagascar, the Ugandans didn’t get into their matches and conceded 48 points to none for their second encounter.
The Malagasies are the nice surprise of this Africa Cup which confirms the true passion for rugby of the red island ! Currently busy rejuvenating their teams, the union is counting a lot on the new young players. Ensure continuity is key and the two large victories against Uganda are giving a boost of confidence to Madagascar.
Tunisia as far as they are concerned ended at the 4th place of its group. Next year they will probably play against Senegal, a team slowly but surely raising to better levels ! In spite of their recent inclusion in this competition, the Lioncubs of Senegal are showing progress year after year. They won this time all their matches against Morocco – the latter making a slow come-back after some difficult years.
FINAL RANKING :
Windhoek : KENYA 26 – 27 ZIMBABWE ; NAMIBIA 64 – 0 TUNISIA ; KENYA 24 – 17 TUNISIA ; NAMIBIA 42 – 29 ZIMBABWE
Casablanca : MOROCCO 12 – 22 SENEGAL ; MOROCCO 8 – 12 SENEGAL
Antananarivo : MADAGASCAR 37 – 6 UGANDA ; MADAGASCAR 48 – 0 UGANDA
Next year, Rugby Africa has the project for this competition to be played in 2 pools of 5 teams – North & South