The Nigeria Black Stallions managed to beat the Ghana Eagles by 14 points to 12 in a nailbiting rendition of the first-ever Ghana-Nigeria Rugby Presidents’ Cup on Saturday 3 August 2019 at the Nduom Sports Stadium in Elmina-Ghana.
In doing so Nigeria also managed to take the second spot in the first-ever WARS (West Africa Rugby Series) Ghana Men’s XVs Invitational that was won by the Ivorian Elephants.
The tri-nations tournament that was hosted and partly sponsored by Ghana Rugby was made possible with contributions from Rugby Africa, Sunda International and GB Foods by way of their Gino Brands.
In a video message (https://youtu.be/xq5R0L9jQ5k) the President of Ghana Rugby, Mr Herbert Mensah, congratulated and thanked the President of Ivory Coast Rugby, Dr Elvis Tano, and the President of Nigeria Rugby, Mr Kelechukwu Mbagwu, for joining him in embarking on an epic journey.
“For us, it’s not about the winning but it is to show that we can do something for the development in West Africa of the second-largest sport in the world, Rugby Union, that is not receiving any support from governments or otherwise,” Mensah said.
The tournament was hailed and praised by all parties as an extraordinary success that beckons to be repeated and expanded to other forms and genders of rugby including women’s fifteens and men’s and women’s sevens.
Nigeria Rugby President Kelechukwu Mbagwu said, “Above all, we thank Ghana Rugby and our Ghanaian brothers. Information reaching me is that the reception we have received has been exemplary and my players are in excellent spirits. It has been a wonderful experience which we hope to fully reciprocate come October. Then we shall tell you ‘Akwaaba’.”
Mr Charles Yapo, Tournament Commissioner and Rugby Africa’s Regional Development Officer for West Africa, also congratulated and thanked all parties in a post-tournament message.
“As the lights are fading on WARS, I would like to, on behalf of Rugby Africa President Mr Khaled Babbou, congratulate the Ghana Rugby Football Union and specifically its President, Mr Herbert Mensah, for this great initiative. It not only allowed our athletes to have a little more time to play but to also get to know each other, to fraternise and to gauge their levels of play,” Yapo said.
A Nigeria rugby fan, Seun Oyekanmi, who followed the inaugural WARS tournament via the Ghana Rugby WhatsApp News Group made the following comment, “Thank you so very much for the opportunity to be here. The experience was awesome! Congratulations to Ghana for a well-organized event! And to the other teams! In the end, Rugby won once again! God bless you all.”
Mr Bronson Weir, South African based Coach of the Nigerian Black Stallions, said that the match could have gone anyway.
“It was an awesome tournament and I appreciate what Ghana has done. And to your President in his absence, ‘Herbert, thank you very much for what you have done – you are awesome! We need these matches and more of these tournaments. God bless you!’,” Weir said.
Mensah said that the inaugural WARS and Ghana-Nigeria Rugby Presidents’ Cup was an important step in the development of Ghana Rugby and indeed of rugby in West Africa.
“We’ve done it in Ghana this year and would like to do it every year and expand on it. I hope that the hospitality shown to you was appropriate and in order.”
Tries for Nigeria were scored by Onori-Oyiza Jude Emmanuel Jatto and Gabriel Etim John with two conversions by Joshua Effiong Etim. For Ghana Suwabiru Salim Amuzulh and Calestus Bosoka scored tries with one conversion by Francis Kweku Mensah Donkor.