Rugby World Cup 2023: Silverbacks to face Côte d’Ivoire in qualifiers opener

Rwanda’s Silverbacks seen here in a past match against Burundi at Amahoro Stadium. File.

The senior national men’s rugby team – Silverbacks – will play Côte d’Ivoire in their first match of the revamped format for the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

Ranked 15th in Africa in the latest Africa Rugby Union rankings, Rwanda is among the sixteen countries that will be vying for the sole ticket to represent the continent at the 10th Rugby World Cup, which is due from September 8 to October 21, 2023 in France.

The other national teams include; Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Morocco, Zambia, Madagascar, Senegal, Ghana, Botswana, Mauritius and Nigeria.

The new qualifiers competition, which is hailed as ‘the most inclusive’ it has ever been, is divided into three stages. The Africa’s top 16 teams will compete in a single coordinated competition until the last two face each other in the final.

The first stage consists of a qualifying round where the teams ranked 9th (Madagascar), 10th (Côte d’Ivoire), 11th (Senegal) and 12th (Ghana) will be up against the teams from 13th (Botswana), 14th (Mauritius), 15th (Rwanda) and 16th (Nigeria), respectively, in a one-leg knock-out match.

The draws format implies that the Silverbacks, second from bottom, will take on Côte d’Ivoire who are second to Madagascar. 

The winners of each of these four matches will progress to the next round where the four teams will be joined by the top eight to form a 12-team group phase. The twelve will be divided into four pools of three teams each.

After the group stage – a round-robin format among group members, the top team from each of the four groups will advance to semi-finals to determine two teams that will face-off in the final.

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