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History of the Rugby World Cup-1987-1999

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AFP

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It is odd looking back to imagine that anyone ever thought a Rugby World Cup was a bad idea. But they did.

In a meeting of the International Rugby Board in 1984, both Scotland and Ireland voted against the idea while the English and Welsh each cast one vote in favour and one against, a precursor perhaps to the division which has marked Brexit.

Fortunately, Australia, New Zealand, France and South Africa – who were members of the IRB in spite of the apartheid-induced international sporting sanction – all voted in favour and the idea was born.

AFP Sports here chronicles the first four tournaments, from 1987 through until 1999:

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Hosts: New Zealand, Australia

Final: New Zealand 29 France 9 (Eden Park, Auckland)

Third: Wales 22 Australia 21

Sixteen teams were invited to the inaugural event to play for the Webb Ellis Cup, named after William Webb Ellis, the Rugby schoolboy who, according to popular legend, first picked up the ball and ran during a game of football in 1823.

The most memorable match of the tournament saw a flying Serge Blanco sink Australia in the dying moments of the semi-final but Blanco’s France were no match for hosts New Zealand in the final in Auckland, David Kirk’s side gliding to a comfortable victory. The unofficial world champions now had it in the shape of a cup.

Hosts: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France

Final: England 6 Australia 12 (Twickenham)

Third: New Zealand 13 Scotland 6

The Home Nations quickly dropped their disregard for a World Cup when they were charged with organising the second edition. Spread across the then Five Nations, the tournament again had 16 teams although this time there had been qualifying which had led to the arrival of Western Samoa.

The Pacific Islanders produced one of the biggest rugby shocks ever when they beat Wales in Cardiff. England edged Scotland in a nail-biter of a semi-final –

Gavin Hastings still has nightmares over the penalty he missed in front of the posts – but Will Carling’s team were then unsettled by comments by Australia wing David Campese in the lead-up to the final and were duly outsmarted by the Wallabies at Twickenham. The Webb Ellis Cup returned down under.

Hosts: South Africa
Final: South Africa 15 New Zealand 12 (aet) (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)

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Third: France 19 England 9

South Africa had been banned from the first two editions but with apartheid gone and Nelson Mandela installed as the country’s first black president, they were permitted not just to play in the 1995 World Cup but to host it – the last in the amateur era.

They did an excellent job, showing off the advantages of a single-nation tournament. Mandela and the nation got behind the hosts who duly battled their way through a controversial rain-hit semi-final against France in Durban to reach the final. There they met the Jonah Lomu-fuelled All Blacks.

With Mandela wearing the number 6 shirt of Bok skipper Francois Pienaar, and a number of the All Blacks suffering from food poisoning, the hosts clung on to win the trophy thanks to Joel Stransky’s extra-time drop goal.

The excitement of the event even reached Hollywood, inspiring Clint Eastwood’s 2009 film Invictus.

Final: Australia 35 France 12 (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff)

Third: South Africa 22 New Zealand 18

Wales were the official hosts for an expanded tournament of 20 teams although the pool stages were played across the Five Nations countries. As in 1991 they lost to Samoa and ended up losing to Australia in the quarter-finals. The two semi-finals which were both thrillers were played at Twickenham.

The first saw a titanic struggle between South Africa and Australia, the Wallabies earning their place in the final with an ugly touchline penalty from Stephen Larkham in extra-time which barely scraped over the crossbar.

The next day, Lomu was on fire and appeared to be taking the All Blacks into another final when France produced one of the all-time great turnarounds. The All Blacks led 24-10 just after half-time when, in the space of 14 minutes, the French pressed the flair button and scored 26 points unanswered, going on to win 43-31.

The final, though, was an anti-climax with a tight, disciplined and slightly boring Australian side seeing off the French who seemed to be spent. A second title for the Aussies.

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‘We’ll win a match at the Olympics, Mr president’

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SAMUEL GACHARIRA

By SAMUEL GACHARIRA
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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday hosted the national women’s volleyball team at Mama Ngina Drive Waterfront, Mombasa following their successful Tokyo Olympics qualification campaign in Cameroon.

Malkia Strikers emerged winners of the qualification tournament with 11 points to get the sole ticket that was reserved for Africa at the Summer Games slated for July 24 to August 9.

It’s the third time that the volleyball queens will be representing the country at the Olympics having graced the 2000 and 2004 editions in Sydney and Athens respectively.

Kenya has never won a match at the Olympics and Uhuru has challenged Paul Bitok and his charges to make history in this year’s Games.

“It’s a big joy and pleasure to be here to celebrate your success. This success is a direct result of your hard work. To us you have already you have won. You have already delivered the cake. The rest will just be the cream on the cake,” said Uhuru.

“We are here to encourage you that as you continue with the journey that you are still up there. It’s not about winning but about giving your best. Even if you don’t win, we want people to say ‘did you see those Kenyan girls and did you see how they play’?” he added.

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“We are going to support you, we are going to give you all that is humanly possible from our end because when this team performs, Kenya performs, ” assured Uhuru, who gave the team a token of Sh1 million.

Bitok thanked the government for their continued support to the team since he took over last August and asked the president to review government policies so that team sports can be appreciated better.

“Since the last time we were here, things have really improved with the Ministry paying players in good time. This is the kind of motivation that has helped me build a winning team. We are grateful to the government for their support,” said Bitok.

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Skipper Mercy Moim echoed Bitok’s sentiments and promised Uhuru to return to Kenya with at least one win from the biggest stage of world volleyball.

“We are happy with the level of transparency at the ministry. Nowadays we get our allowances in our accounts and we don’t have to worry about it. This has really boosted our morale,” said Moim. “We have now come of age as a team and we are confident of winning two matches at the Olympics. We hope to get the best preparations because we can deliver.”

Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka Kioni revealed he had received a roadmap for the Olympics from the technical bench and asked the government to support their preparations.

“The coaches have already handed in a program which shows how serious they are about the Olympics. They want to have a camp in Europe so that they can represent the continent well. This is the volleyball only team from Africa that will be at the Olympics and we are happy that the ministry is already treating them in a special way. We look forward to more support during the preparation phase, ” said Kioni.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed reiterated her ministry’s commitment towards ensuring the girls get good preparations for the quadrennial competition.

“We are proud of these girls and what they have achieved over the years. As a ministry, we promise give them the best because they are capable of winning a medal at the Olympics,” said Amina.

Malkia Strikers are expected to start preparations for the Games in April with the technical bench having planned training camps in Turkey and Japan.

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Drug cheats have nowhere to hide, warn AK

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AYUMBA AYODI

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Athletics Kenya has expressed satisfaction that the systems put in place by them, Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) are working following the suspension of top Kenya elite athletes.

AK president Jackson Tuwei said during a press conference on Friday at Riadha House that the battle against doping will go a notch higher when Parliament passes the bill that will criminalise use of banned substances in the country.

The AK press conference came in the wake of the suspension of former World marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang and 2014 World Under-20 800m champion Alfred Kipketer for doping violation.

On Friday last week, AIU confirmed having provisionally suspended Kipsang, who is also the 2012 London Olympic Marathon bronze medallist for whereabouts failures and tampering with samples.

Kipketer, who won gold in 2014 and silver in 2017 in 4x800m at the World Relay Championships, has also been suspended for his whereabouts failures.

“Our stand on doping is well known and we are now working very closely with AIU, Adak and the government to eliminate the menace. The current investigations and suspensions are happening as a result of our current cooperation with AIU and Adak,” Tuwei said as he allayed fears that Kenya could be banned from taking part in major international events.

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Tuwei warned athletes there will be nowhere to hide for drug cheats with the kind of machinery that has been put in place.

“They is nowhere to hide and it’s either they work hard to remain relevant or quit the sport since the anti-doping winds are too strong for those who want to engage in hide and seek,” said Tuwei.

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Tuwei, who was flanked by senor deputy vice president Paul Mutwii and AK director in charge youth and development Barnaba Korir, noted that doping is a choice and victims should take responsibility and face the consequences.

“It’s a shame for experienced athletes to fail to manage their whereabouts schedule despite having taken them through several trainings. Either this is an act of ignorance or a deliberate move to take a short cut to stardom,” said Tuwei.

During the Athletes Conference last month in Eldoret, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed disclosed that the government had already formed a team to amend the Anti-Doping laws that will have doping criminalised.

Amina, who failed to state when the laws will be ready, reiterated that athletes reprimanded for doping will never represent the country again.

Tuwei emphasised that those found guilty of doping should plan for their retirement because there will be no second chance.

“We have also decided not to deal with only the consumer but also the source in a bid to end the menace,” added Tuwei.

Tuwei warned foreign coaches working in the country without a permit will be charged before being deported.

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Uhuru hosts triumphant Malkia Strikers at State House

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SAMUEL GACHARIRA

By SAMUEL GACHARIRA
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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday challenged Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to utilise the Sports Fund to improve the lives of sportspersons.

Uhuru was speaking at Mama Ngina Drive Waterfront in Mombasa where he hosted the national women’s volleyball team after they qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Malkia Strikers emerged top during the Africa Olympic qualifiers held in Yaounde from January 5 to 9 to book the sole ticket reserved for the continent at the Summer Games.

“Sports has continuously put Kenya on the map. One thing that undisputedly makes us Kenyan is sports. Most people know Kenya because of our gallant sportsmen and sportswomen. You represent that which is best about Kenya,” said Uhuru before he emotionally delved into the Sports Fund and welfare of sportspersons.

“We have a fund, a dedicated fund for sports. I want you to make sure that money goes to sports people and not buildings. I want this money invested in our sports people,” he added amid raucous applause from Malkia Strikers players and coaches.

Uhuru said the Sports Fund was created to ensure sports people lead comfortable lives and asked the CS and newly appointed Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo to formulate policies to that effect.

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“Develop policies for our sportsmen to make a living out of sports. I want them to wake up, play and go to sleep without having to worry about where they will get money for food and other needs. Our players should lead comfortable lives just like any other Kenyan,” emphasised Uhuru, who gave the girls a token of Sh1 million and a further Sh500,000 to celebrate their success while in Mombasa.

The Sports Fund became operational last year and Malkia Strikers is one of the biggest beneficiary of the fund with the government having funded their trips to the African Games, World Cup and Africa Olympic qualifiers.

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