Democratic Republic of Congo to become associate member of World Rugby
JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will soon be named as an associated member of World Rugby, according to a statement released by the Congolese Rugby Federation on Wednesday night.
Through the efforts of Rugby Africa and its representative Steph Nel, the Francophone nation is set to become the sixth associate African union of the sport's administrative body, joining Algeria, Burundi, Mali, Tanzania and Togo. It is expected that the motion to become an associate will be ratified by World Rugby at their next meeting, tentatively scheduled for May.
"This recognition will come as reward after several years of effort to maintain and encourage the practice of rugby in the (DRC)," the statement read, "where more and more young people are involved in the sport and its universally recognised values."
With the status of associate, the DRC will be entitled to participation in regional competitions, which does not include qualification for the Rugby World Cup, attend the General Assembly of the international association in a non-voting capacity, receive access to World Rugby administrative advice and support, and receive funding from World Rugby on agreed upon projects.
Rugby was introduced to the DRC in 1954, and although still a minor sporting code in the country, the game is enjoying growth in participation and interest, with its largest base in the country's capital, Kinshasa.
The nation has one famous rugby export in DRC-born Vincent Tshituka, who plays for the Lions, based in Johannesburg. Admittedly, the 22-year-old loose-forward only became enamoured by the sport once he moved to South Africa, but the admission of the nation as associate will aid the further development of its players, and could possibly see future international stars discovered in the central African state.