World Rugby council opened today in London. Rugby's new passionate frontier: Africa

World Rugby council opened today in London. Rugby's new passionate frontier: Africa

20 November 2017, 10:59AM

The World Rugby Council opened today in London and will vote on Wednesday for the country to host the 2023 World Rugby Cup. South Africa is very likely to win.

When it comes to the world’s biggest rugby nations, it would be easy to assume that the most fanatical supporters would be in the old guard countries of international rugby. England, New Zealand and South Africa all come to mind but few can rival the passion and energy of African rugby.

In a continent known for great footballing nations, the oval ball has been Africa’s best kept love affair for decades and one that continues to blossom. The number of registered players on the continent jumped up from 770 000 to over a million in the last year alone. In 2013, World Rugby’s “Get Into Rugby” initiative attracted 22 000 players, in 2017, that number was 384 000. The number of female rugby players in Africa has seen a 50% increase between 2016 and 2017. In 2017, 20% of rugby players in Africa are women and girls.

These numbers are echoed by the real passion and dedication of African rugby fans across the continent. Madagascar is a perfect illustration of this passion. With rugby as their national sport, they have more rugby clubs per capita than any other country with 160 Rugby clubs in the capital city alone. This surge of interest seems likely to continue with 22 000 schools now including rugby in their curriculums across Africa, up from 20 000 in 2016. Africa is rapidly becoming the world’s largest youth pool with 60% of the continent’s population under the age of 24 and that number is predicted to grow.

With South Africa likely to be announced as the host for the 2023 Rugby World Cup this week and the African Gold cup in 2018, the profile of African rugby has never been higher and the continent’s governing body for rugby is rising to the occasion.

As a result of this spotlight and Africa’s huge potential for the sport, World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa has partnered up with Africa’s leading media relations consulting firm, the APO Group. The partnership was formalised by APO Group’s CEO, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard and The Chairman of Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja at the World Rugby’s annual executive council meeting in London on November 12th 2017.