More teams for Gold Cup

HARARE - Africa's premier international rugby competition, the Gold Cup will have eight teams next year from the usual six according to the Rugby Afrique.

Zimbabwe was on the verge of relegation to the second tier Silver Cup competition after a difficult 2018 Gold Cup campaign under new coach Peter de Villiers.

The Sables started their campaign with a disappointing 23-23 home draw against Morocco before consecutive defeats to Kenya, Tunisia and Namibia left them on the ropes.

However, the team finally came good in the final game against Uganda in Kampala where they secured an 18-38 win.

As a result, the Sables finished the season in fifth place in the six-team division behind Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Tunisia.

Morocco finished bottom of the log and were supposed to be relegated before Rugby Afrique’s intervention this weekend.

Speaking shortly after the Silver Cup play-off final between Zambia and Algeria at the Leopards Cage Stadium in Mufulira, Rugby Afrique president Abdelaziz Bougja announced that both teams will qualify for the Gold Cup.

Algeria won the match 0-31 and were supposed to be promoted to the Gold Cup and take up the slot vacated by relegated Morocco.

But as things stand, Morocco will now remain in the top tier while Algeria and Zambia will both be promoted to make it eight teams starting from next year.

“As you know, Zambia beat Botswana and Madagascar in the Silver Cup South whilst Algeria beat Ivory Coast and Senegal in the Silver Cup North, so in this regard is was not a difficult decision to make,” Bougja said in comments carried by APO Group.

This increase in teams from six to eight will come as a welcome boost to the teams in the Gold Cup.

With the exception of South Africa, most African countries would play just five Tests per year which is not good enough for the development of the game on the continent.

All teams in the Gold Cup starting from next year will now play a guaranteed seven Tests in the competition.

In the event they line up other matches outside the Gold Cup, teams will now play a significant number of internationals compared to previous years.

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