The Ghana national Rugby team, the Ghana Eagles, made Ghanaians feel proud when they beat rivals Benin 46 points to 5 in the first match of the Rugby Africa Regional Challenge Group West 1 tournament on the Accra Sports Stadium pitch on Sunday 30 April 2017.
The match started frenetically with both teams scoring tries in the first eight minutes, first by Ghana’s Jalilu Yussif Abdul followed by a Benin try from Alphon Guegi.
From then on, however, it was one way traffic with Ghana scoring four more tries in the first half and three tries in the second half.
Of the eight tries scored only three were converted to add six points to the try tally of 40.
Try scorers for Ghana were Jalilu Yussif Abdul (2), Abdul Mumuni Halidu (1), Theophilus Opai (3), Michael Acqueye (1), Kelechi Onwuta (1). Theophilus Opai converted two tries with Francis Donkor adding one more conversion.
In the next encounter on Wednesday 3rd May, Benin will face another archrival, Togo, in the second of the three-match tournament. The match will again be played at the Accra Sports Stadium and will kick off at 3 pm.
The final match will be between two teams with good and close relationships, Ghana and Togo, on Sunday 7 May at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Match officiating was handled by World Rugby referee Ignace Ndri assisted by the Ghanaian team of Clement Dennis, Ishmael Adamah, Robert Oram, and Benson Botchwey.
The Match Commissioner for the Africa rugby Regional Challenge is Mr Alain Koubé with Mr Charles Yapo as Citing Officer. The Judicial Officer, Mr Said Chikhaoui, could not make it to Ghana.
Although the encounter was a hard-fought battle, there were no serious injuries, and no sending-off sanctions were handed out by the Match Referee.
Mr Herbert Mensah, President of Ghana Rugby, remarked that he was satisfied with the performance of the Ghana Eagles although there was room for improvement.
“I think coach Lovemore Kuzorera did a good job in preparing the Ghana Eagles, but there is no reason to sit back. The match Saturday against Togo will be a different affair as they are without a doubt the tournament favourites.”
Mr Mensah once again expressed his gratitude to the sponsors such as Interplast, the Gino brands, Golden Tulip Accra, Accra Brewery and CLUB Lager, eVerpure and AMS for making this tournament possible.
“The Ghana Government once again let Ghana Rugby down by not helping with one pesewa towards this international encounter. More importantly, they let Ghana down.”
Madam Bertha Graft-Johnson, Sales and Marketing Manager of Golden Tulip Accra, said that they are proud to support the Ghana Eagles and congratulated them on behalf of the hotel group.
“In Ghana, we seem to be only focused on football, and the Golden Tulip Accra decided to support a lesser known sport. We chose Ghana Rugby because we believe they can win on the world stage of Rugby. It is our pleasure to support the Ghana Eagles with accommodation and meals for the VIPs of Africa and World Rugby,” Madam Graft- Johnson said.
The Coach of Benin Rugby, Kossou Euloge, noted that Ghana has a good team with both a strong forward pack and a very mobile back line. Asked what is next for Benin, Mr. Euloge said that even though they know and respect Togo very well, they will do everything to ensure a win on Wednesday.
“We don’t want to go home empty-handed,” Euloge said.
After a hard week behind them, the Ghana Eagles will have some time to work on mistakes in preparation for their critical encounter against Togo on Saturday.