A Rugby Africa
Africa Gold Cup expanded
By Eric Njiru | Mon 22 Oct, 2018 14:18

Africa Gold Cup, the continent's top tier 15s competition, will be expanded from six to eight teams from 2019 according to Rugby Afrique. 

This means Rugby Africa Silver Cup 2018 champions Algeria will be joined by runners-up Zambia in the top tier that featured Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tunisia and Morocco in 2018. 

Also read Unranked Algeria promoted to Africa Gold Cup 

The expansion further means that Morocco, placed sixth and bottom at the end of the Africa Gold Cup campaign that doubled up as a 2019 World Cup qualifier, and presumed relegated, survives the chop. 

Africa Rugby President Abdelaziz Bougja said the decision was taken at the last meeting held in Tunisia to increase the number of teams participating in next year's games from 6 to 8.

"As you know, Zambia beat Botswana and Madagascar in the Silver Cup South whilst Algeria beat Ivory Coast and Senegal in the Silver Cup North, so in this regard is was not a difficult decision to make".

On Saturday Algeria shocked host Zambia in Mufulira 31-0 to grab the Silver Cup and earn promotion to the Gold Cup.Had this year's structure been maintained, Zambia would have had to try once more in 2019 to be elevated to the Gold Cup in 2020.

“I have good news for Zambia — they have also qualified for the Gold Cup as we are expanding from six teams to eight,” revealed Bougla after  their defeat to Algeria on Saturday.

This is the second time in three years the Africa Gold Cup has been expanded. 

In 2017, the competition was expanded from four to six to give more teams a chance to qualify for Rugby World Cup. 

A one-year moratorium on relegation and the decision to promote two teams from the second-tier resulted in the expanded six-team competition, formerly known as Africa Cup Division 1A prior to 2017. 

Zimbabwe enjoyed a stay of execution despite finishing bottom in 2016, while Division 1B runners-up Tunisia won promotion to the top flight alongside champions Senegal.

At the end of the 2017 season, where each team played five games, Senegal went down to be replaced by Morocco. 

In 2019, every team will play seven matches. 

Eric Njiru
ericnjiru41@gmail.com 0726205521
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