History is in the making with the installation of “real” Rugby goal posts for the first time in 21 years on the almost “football exclusive” national Accra Sports Stadium. The installation is done in preparation for the Rugby Africa Regional Challenge Tournament – Group West 1 between Benin, Ghana and Togo that will take place between 30 April 2017 and 7 May 2017.
The last time that Ghanaians saw “rea”l Rugby goal posts on the Accra Sports Stadium was in 1996 when Ghana Rugby President, Herbert Mensah, organised an extravaganza in Accra to raise funds for Max Brito who got paralysed in the 1995 World Rugby Cup in Rustenburg, South Africa.
Ex Springboks with Naas Botha and ex-UK players Martin Johnson (Lions Captain), Tim Rodber (English Captain) and Dean Richards were part of that extravaganza.
Naas Botha is a Northern Transvaal (Blue Bulls) and Springboks former Rugby union player. He was voted Rugby Player of the Year in 1979, 1981, 1985 and 1987. Botha mostly played in the fly-half position and is now a rugby commentator for the South African M-Net and Supersport TV channels.
According to Botha he had a feeling, as far back as 1996, that Ghana is destined to one day take to the world stage of Rugby.
“I wish the President of Ghana Rugby, Herbert Mensah, and his Rugby family all of the best with this tournament and with the fantastic development work they are doing,” Botha said.
Herbert Mensah, who is also a board member of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) and Chairman of the GOC Media Relations Committee, said that the installation of the Rugby goal posts was not only a requirement from World Rugby for hosting the international event.
“It high time that the sports governing bodies realise that our national stadiums is and should be available and equipped for the use by all 33 sports federations, and not just football.
We all love our football and our Black Stars, but if we open our eyes we will see that there are thousands of young Ghanaians who would like to pursue enjoyment and performance in sports of their choice that may not include football as an option,” Mensah said.
Rugby is the second biggest sport in the world after football. The Rugby World Cup in 2015 enjoyed a global audience of 120 million plus viewers and more than 6.6 million players across 120 countries participate in rugby on a regular basis.
Sevens Rugby was also recently reintroduced to the Olympics after it broke another drought of 93 years and is part of the sports menu at both junior and senior levels of the Commonwealth Games.
The Rugby Africa Regional Challenge Tournament will be played at the Accra Sports Stadium with a kickoff on Sunday 3 May between Benin and the Ghana Eagles, the national Rugby team, followed by a midweek match on Wednesday between Benin and Togo.
The final match will see the Ghana Eagles against Togo on Saturday 7 May at the “newly equipped” Accra Sports Stadium with a planned kickoff at 3 pm for all matches.
Mrs Coralie van den Berg, General Manager of Rugby Afrique, said in an interview from Cape Town South Africa that both Africa Rugby and World Rugby wishes all the teams all of the best and the hope is that the tournament will produce lots of entertainment and exciting Rugby to Ghanaians.
“Rugby has been building character in the youth globally since 1823 and and its values of integrity, passion, teamwork, discipline and respect makes it a worthwhile sport to consider by all young irrespective of race, sex, religion or age,” van den Berg said.
Mrs Coralie van den Berg, General Manager of Rugby Afrique, said in an interview from Cape Town, South Africa that Africa Rugby wishes all the teams all of the best and the hope is that the tournament will produce lots of entertainment and exciting Rugby for Ghanaians.
“Rugby has been building character since 1823 and and its values of integrity, passion, teamwork, discipline and respect makes it a worthwhile sport to consider by all young people irrespective of race, sex, religion or age,” van den Berg said.