The Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) has said it hoped to feature the men and women’s sevens national rugby teams in this year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens Africa pre-qualifiers if the COVID-19 pandemic permits sporting activities to hold across the world.
Outlining NRFF’s programe for the year at the weekend, the NRFF Technical Director, Abubakar Yaro, said that apart from the world cup qualifiers, NRFF would begin its activities for the 2021 calendar with the organisation of refresher courses for coaches.
“The year will kick off with a training course for our coaches, referees and administrators followed by a return to the National Sports Festival, which was postponed last year just two days before kickoff due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
“Rugby will return to the Nigeria Sports Festival in Edo State after a 10-year absence. Also the President’s Cup between Police and Barewa will usher in the 2021 League Season after, which Nigeria will get a shot at France 2023 World Cup qualifiers by participating at the Africa Cup (World Cup Pre-qualifiers) to be held in West Africa in May,” he said.
Yaro added: “Our men’s and women’s sevens teams will engage in the Africa Pre-qualifiers of the Rugby World Cup Sevens later in the year. We stand a big chance to qualify for the 2023 World Cup in France. Nigeria and eight others will compete for one slot available in Africa Cup 2022. The tournament will be held in West Africa (COVID-19 permitting).
“Other countries jostling for the slot are Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Eswatini, Mauritius, Rwanda and Morocco (pending suspension status being reviewed). We will work towards early preparations to get the required results in the Tournament,” he said.
Speaking more on rugby activities for the year, NRFF President, Kelechukwu Mbagwu, said that participating in the World Cup qualifiers and getting the ticket would put the country in the world map of rugby.
“We are happy to announce that our women’s sevens team will be competing this year on the continent for the first time since 2009. Recall our women’s sevens team last participated in the year 2009 in Ghana, where they finished runners up to Tunisia.
“We thank the leadership of rugby Africa for giving our ladies the opportunity to play on the continent again. We look forward to watching them alongside the men’s sevens team later in the year. We will ensure better preparations by including the ladies in the league. We enjoin corporate Nigeria, individuals and foundations to partner with us to grow rugby in Nigeria. Our doors are open for discussion,” he stated.