Panafrican News Agency

Coronavirus: Rugby Africa unions return to play in line with health guidelines

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – While health and safety for all remain the highest priority of the entire sporting community in Africa, Rugby Africa announced on Thursday that it is getting ready to return to action.

The rugby family has been severely challenged by the coronavirus crisis, “but as a community we stand strong together,” Rugby Africa said in a statement, announcing the outcome of its COVID-19 relief campaign which supported 31 member unions through a dedicated solidarity campaign.

In June Rugby Africa announced the immediate release of Euros 170,000.00 from a solidarity fund for its member unions.

The Rugby Africa Executive Committee had initiated the relief campaign given the current health crisis and the immediate impact it had on the rugby community at large.

All 31 rugby federations received the Rugby Africa solidarity fund and used it towards distribution of emergency food packages, medical support as well as personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitiser gels for clubs and players in their respective countries.

All member federations were eligible for this financial aid and could use the funds depending on their needs, while the financial aid granted considered the size of the federation and its level of development.

Rugby unions which received grants from the Rugby Africa solidarity fund: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The unveiling of the solidarity grant couldn’t have come at a much needed time as we saw the need to donate food parcels to our rugby playing vulnerable children who were in need of food. There was also a further need to provide the protective utilities to our rugby players to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 within our rugby fraternity,” said Lesotho Rugby Union’s president, Mr Fetang Selialia.

Jean-Baptiste Gobelet, Director of the Mauritius Rugby Union added: “This campaign led by Rugby Africa has had a considerable impact in Mauritius. The Rugby Federation is the only sports federation in the country that provided social assistance of this magnitude during the COVID-19 period.

“It was necessary for rugby to proof our values and solidarity. At the same time, the federation quickly put in place a plan to resume rugby activities in July and August to maintain links with all members. Children and their families are grateful for this support and rugby has conquered the heart of social network of Mauritius even more.

“In the coming months we will continue our work in the different regions of Mauritius make rugby more popular in schools. Rugby has a role to play that goes beyond sport, it has a true social vector which will attract more and more young people to practice of this sport.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Committee of Rugby Africa said: “The Rugby Africa solidarity fund was a unique measure to fight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the fund we wanted to send a signal of support and hope to our member unions in times of adversity. It was enlightening to see the roll out of this campaign and how the unions followed the due diligence process.

“Our development work and strategy obviously go way beyond the solidarity fund which was a unique project in the history of Rugby Africa so far. All across the continent countries return step by step to train and play rugby in line with the government and health guidelines.”

-0- PANA  AR 24Sept2020