BY NTIENSE WILLIAMS
The 2019 Rugby Season was the Rugby World Cup year. For the first time it was held in Asia, Japan to be precise. It certainly lived up to its billing not withstanding the disruption of the game schedule due to the typhoons natural disaster.
In what proved an entertaining yet frantic year for the oval-ball game, New Zealand’s reign at the top of the sport finally came to an end in one of the most extraordinary ways possible – there semi-final defeat against England ending eight years of global domination.
That not withstanding, the 2019 Rugby World Cup was a resounding success that saw a new Champion in South Africa equalling the winning streak of 3 wins by New Zealand “All Blacks”
Another history was made as The Springbok Captain Siya Kolisi is the first and only black Rugby Player to captain a World Cup winning team in the history of the William Webb Ellis Trophy!
South Africa defeated England by 32 points to 12 points in an epic finals. South Africa’s Rugby World Cup triumph in 2019 thus eclipses the side’s success in 1995, according to former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.
World Rugby has announced record-breaking digital content viewing figures for Rugby World Cup 2019, confirming the tournament as one of the most watched and engaged sports events of the decade.
#RWC2019 video content generates more than 2.1 billion views
Fifty four per cent of all video views accessed via World Rugby channels RWC Daily show watched nearly 11 million times
The Blossoms the Japanese Rugby National Team were a sight to behold and the best host so far in World Rugby history.
In Africa Rugby, Kenya secure the 2020 Tokyo Olympics African slot during the Africa Men’s Sevens tournament which was sponsored by Société Général and hosted in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The Rugby Africa qualifiers had 14 teams who were in action in the two day event including Nigeria who came eighth position.
The Black Stallion also lost out of the Africa Rugby Cup qualifier when they were defeated by Madagascar 63 points to 3 points, as such lost out on the premier 15’s Africa Rugby Championship for the 2020 Africa Rugby Season.
Before now, Nigeria also lost out to Ivory Coast in the West Africa Rugby Series held in Ghana.
Ivory Coast was therefore crowned the 2019 WARS Champions haven’t previously defeated host Ghana in the first match of the Championship. Nigeria however defeated Ghana in the second match of the tournament to win an unofficial Ghana Vs Nigeria President’s Cup which return leg is still expected.
The National Rugby Union League program is yet to be concluded as we still await a 2019 Champion to emerge, even without a South South & South East League which did not hold last year.
Also the Rugby Federation Secretary General Mr Victor Anosa and Technical Director Mr Ntiense Williams were unceremoniously removed by the President Mr Kelechi Mbagwu with appeals pending at the supervising Ministry of Youth & Sports.
However, it wasn’t all loss or gloomy as two Black Stallion Captains Azeez Ladipo and Ona Jatto got married.
That not withstanding though, there were a couple of things that brought some delight and smiles on the faces of most Rugby lovers.
One of which was the fact that Rugby was featured as a medal winning event at the 2019 National Youth Games in Ilorin Kwara State with Edo Girls and Kano Boys winning the two Gold Medals in the Sevens event. Thanks to host Coach Angulu Sulymon and “Mr Rugby” who organised the most successful event.
Also, Rugby returned to the 20th National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020 after 10 years of absence as one of the five optional sports courtesy of the host Edo State and the sagacity of “Mr Rugby” Ntiense Williams who is an employee and Head Coach of the Edo State Rugby Association and the Sports Commission.
Akwa Ibom State formally inaugurated the Akwa Ibom State Rugby Association alongside 30 other sporting association to kick start genuine Rugby programs in the State.
Ehibam Griefshare Foundation held the first Championship at Idia College in Benin City after its launch last year, while Eco 2 School’s Rugby Tournament was held in Ajegunle Lagos.
Rugby players and enthusiast once again enjoyed fun and Rugby at the Sandy Beech Rugby Tournament at Takwabay Beech in Lagos to round up the 2019 domestic Rugby Season.