characteristic of the African rugby governing motherbody after Namibia and Morocco pulled out of what is supposed to be the most prestigious African rugby tournament.
Defending champions Namibia and Morocco have withdrawn from the CAR Group 1A tournament that was expected to kick-off yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Namibia’s withdrawal is caused by a lack of finances owing to the heavy financial commitment involved in preparing their side for the 2011 Rugby World Cup that was held in New Zealand while Morocco have cited administrative issues as the reason behind their withdrawal from the tournament.
“Hosts Kenya and Tunisia, who are already in the country ahead of the event, have therefore earned byes to the final and will face off at 4pm on Saturday November 12,” read part of a statement from CAR.
This left only hosts Kenya and Tunisia to fight for the African title and the game has been set for Saturday at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.
Maybe it is poverty or lack of discipline within the sport in Africa that is forcing CAR to accept anything in the organisation as all the teams that have breached the code of ethics in the recent past have gone unpunished.
Headed by Abdelaziz Bougja, who yesterday confirmed to The Herald that the executive committee is expected to meet on Friday in Kenya to determine who will be relegated from the group, CAR has just become a circus.
“As you know the original rules were that the team in fourth position has to go down (relegated to Group 1B).
“Regarding the draw of two teams in this group, the executive committee will have to take a position at the next meeting on Friday,” said Bougja.
Since last year the tournament has been marred by a number of controversies bordering on both language and geographical lines with the English-speaking countries having little say in the organisation that is dominated by former French colonies.
The format of the tournament was that the winner of Group 1A would lift the Africa Cup while the team that finished bottom in the four-team competition would be relegated to 1B.
With the Sables having won the 1B grouping without a defeat after a great show, they are set to be part of the top class in next year’s edition of the games.
This is also the same group that plays the Africa version of the World Cup qualifiers.
However, this not the first time that Namibia are pulling out of the competition as they did the same last year with the same excuse but then it was for the Nations Cup.
CAR have been inconsistent in the way they handle the association and in the build-up to the last year’s semi-finals, the teams that hosted the qualifiers got funds that were not enough to host the tournaments, while the travelling teams received a bigger chunk of the funds.
Then, the Group B games failed to get underway in Cameroon after Uganda, Kenya and Namibia indicated that they were not able to take part in the tournament.
The three teams argued that the group games were supposed to have been in a central country where travel logistics would have been easier.
The tournament was first put on hold in early November with the International Rugby Board indicating that none of the teams that were taking part were prepared to host, save for Morocco.
But a CAR board meeting on December 8 in Ghana resolved to call off the tournament and focus on the next 2011 edition of the event, which has once again failed.
The cancellation of the tournament brought anger and disappointment to the Zimbabwean rugby family as the Sables were hoping to get more game time before the end of last year.
But they were only able to return to action in June where they registered an historic performance going unbeaten in both the 1B competition and lifting the Victoria Cup with an unbeaten record.
The Sables were promoted into Group 1A after they won the southern region tournament and will be part of the elite group next year.