The World Cup dream is over – for now
27 July 2012
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Nigeria went to Botswana with high hopes of causing an upset and going through to the next stage of qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but two defeats have seen their dreams unfulfilled.
The six-team tournament became five when Cameroon pulled out of the competition with just a couple of days’ notice, so instead of three games, each country would only play two. A 26-22 loss against unranked Mauritius was followed by a 29-17 defeat to Ivory Coast ranked 43 places higher but in both games Nigeria put in a strong second half performance which implies that more time together as a team could see big improvements. Reading player reactions on Twitter it seems that the teams they played were better organised but beatable so there is certainly reason for optimism when Nigeria competes in next year’s African Nations Cup.
The Division 1c tournament is completed tomorrow with Ivory Coast playing Zambia and hosts Botswana taking on Mauritius. There is every chance of two teams finishing with two wins and with only one promotion place available and that team also remaining in contention for qualification, the stakes are high.
(UPDATE 31/7/12) Ivory Coast and Botswana won their games but Botswana’s better points difference means that they are promoted to Division 1b and are still in with a chance of RWC qualification)
Although the route to the 2015 World Cup is now closed to Nigeria there is still the 2013 Sevens World Cup to aim for. The African qualifying tournament is in September in Marrakesh, Morocco, and I have already booked my flights and accommodation to lend my support and to accept the challenge of keeping people informed of their progress.