The Confederation of African Rugby (CAR), has approved a series of “exciting” measures that will provide another major boost for the ongoing development of the game in Africa, the International Rugby Board reported on Friday.
CAR is the regional body responsible for the administration and governance of Rugby in Africa but it has been criticised by some members in this part of the region for not being serious about the development of the game.
The regional governing body- which has been criticised for being dominated by French speaking countries at the expense of the more competitive English speaking countries in East and Southern Africa.
Only last week it cancelled the semifinals of this year’s Africa Cup, a move that was met with contempt by stakeholders on the local rugby fraternity as it came at a time when African national teams have been starved of competition.
North Africans Morocco, Zimbabwe and Madagascar had already booked their places in the semi-finals while Cameroon been declared the other group winners following the withdrawal by Kenya, Uganda and Namibia.
However irb.com reported that 23 national rugby unions- of which Zimbabwe is a member approved the key measures at the confederation’s General Assembly in Accra earlier this month.
These include the implementation of a new Strategic Plan, the approval of a new Operational Plan and restructuring of the Regional competition model.
The three actions will ensure that Africa is in the best possible position to optimise the benefits of rugby’s Olympic inclusion and will provide the blueprint for accelerated growth in both existing and emerging rugby markets.
While CAR gave no clear reason for cancelling the Africa Cup, they claimed that “central to the new vision was is the implementation of a new four year Strategic Plan that is aimed at increasing men’s and women’s participation and promoting elite competition success”.
While leadership in regional confederations in, for example a sport like soccer has been dominated by the North and West Africans on the basis of their success it has not been the case with Rugby.
West African countries are not as competitive as East and Southern African countries in regional and international competitions but they dominate the leadership positions in the governing body. During the general assembly the IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said:
“The IRB was currently investing over US$2.8 million a year in CAR Union development programmes and Regional tournament infrastructure aimed at raising the competitiveness of the Game in Africa.
“We are working in partnership with CAR to ensure that Rugby continues to flourish throughout the Region.”
“In 2007 a historic accord was signed with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) aimed at jointly fostering sport and Rugby in the Region.
“Popularity and participation has been boosted by the Olympic Games decision and there is considerable interest from National Olympic Committees who are keen to establish relationships with National Unions in Africa.
“These are exciting times for Rugby in Africa and this new framework implemented by CAR will ensure that the sport continues to reach out to new men, women and children in Africa,” added Lapasset.
Other outcomes of the CAR General Assembly saw a new Executive Committee elected with France based Moroccan, Abdelaziz Bougja was re-elected as CAR President and IRB Council Member.
Ghanaian Gifty Annan-Myres became the first woman to be elected to the CAR Executive Committee. The meeting also saw a partnership agreement signed between CONFEJES (the Conference of Ministers and Youth and Sport of French speaking countries) and CAR that will see the youth sports body provide technical support and training assistance to the French speaking Unions in the Region.
In 2011 CAR will also launch a new website aimed at providing competition and participation information, training materials and key contacts.