Rwanda V Côte d’Ivoire: Coach Ezoua on facing his former team

Claude-Aimé Ezoua (R), helped Côte d’Ivoire to qualify for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted and won by South Africa. Delphin Umurerwa.

The men’s rugby national team coach, Claude-Aimé Ezoua, has said that it will be a ‘special moment’ for him when Rwanda face Côte d’Ivoire in the Africa Rugby Cup qualifiers this week.

France-born Ezoua, 63, represented Côte d’Ivoire during his playing career before taking up the team’s head coach job during which he guided them to a sensational qualification to the 1995 Rugby World Cup – which was hosted and won by South Africa.

The Silverbacks of Rwanda who departed the country Wednesday night, take on Côte d’Ivoire at the Beingervilla Stadium in Abidjan on Saturday, with the two teams vying for a ticket to join Morocco and Kenya in Pool B of the group stage.

According to Ezoua, Rwanda is ‘privileged’ to play a strong side such as Côte d’Ivoire, but his players should not feel intimidated. “Winning away is possible. We will just have to do our best and see how it goes.”

The former Côte d’Ivoire international was signed as the Silverbacks head coach in January 2018.

“This match will allow us to evaluate our level and areas of improvement so that we can adjust our work programme for the future. But, mainly, we will be fighting for victory.”

Star winger Donatien Ufitimfura, who features for local league champions Lion de Fer, will captain the Silverbacks against the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire.

Full squad:

Full back: Ombeni Iradukunda

Scrumhalf: Moise Habumigisha

Fly half: Carlos Jean Pacifique Isimbi

Wingers: Donatien Ufitimfura and Pompidou Tuyishime

Centers: Pierre Niyoyita, Sharif Gasore, Jean de Dieu Hakizimana and Steven Kwizera

Forwards: Eric Habimana, Emmanuel Dushimimana, Janvier Bunani, Jean Leonard Twiziyimana, Martin Rukundakuvuga, Moise Ndimurwango, Donath Kanyamahanga, Patrick Ikorukwishaka, Seraphin Mwiseneza, Ismael Bikamba, Barnabe Ngizwenayo, Patrick Kazungu and Olivier Rugwiro.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com