Madagascar was the latest destination for Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying last week, playing host to the Confédération Africaine de Rugby (CAR) Championship Division 1B competition.
It is fitting that the journey to England 2015 for African nations should begin in a country where Rugby is the national sport and where 40,000 fans packed into the Mahamasina Stadium in the capital city Antananarivo on Sunday to see their heroes defeat Namibia 57-54 in a high-scoring final to earn promotion to Division 1A of the Africa Cup in 2013.
With Rugby very much alive and thriving on the African island and the national team performing well, the demand and enthusiasm for all things Rugby is high and the Game will receive a further boost with the IRB and its kit distribution partner LV= SOS Kit Aid delivering a consignment of Rugby kit and balls to the Fédération Malagasy de Rugby.
The delivery, which includes jerseys, shorts, socks and other essential gear, has been collected from schools and Rugby clubs in the UK and Ireland and includes good quality second-hand items as well as new kit which is no longer wanted and was otherwise destined for landfill sites.
The donation gives the kit a new lease of life and will be distributed by the Union to clubs and schools in the country for the benefit of Rugby at all levels as part of the legacy and development programme around the Africa Cup.
IRB Vice Chairman Oregan Hoskins, who was in Madagascar for the Division 1B final along with the Webb Ellis Cup, said: "We are delighted to have been able to contribute to the development of youth Rugby in Madagascar through this delivery of kit. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits from reusing the gear, those children already playing Rugby or those who are new to the Game will directly benefit from the delivery. We are grateful to LV= SOS Kit Aid and their colleagues in TNT for their generous support in getting the shipment to Madagascar."
CAR President Abdelaziz Bougja said: "On behalf of the Confédération Africaine de Rugby I am delighted that the IRB and LV= SOS Kit Aid are driving this important initiative of delivering Rugby kit to the young players and grassroots community in Madagascar and I would like to thank them for their support.
"These are exciting times for Rugby in Africa and with Rugby being the number one sport in Madagascar, highlighted by over 35,000 fans enthusiastically watching the CAR Championship Division 1B matches yesterday, I am sure that this shipment will be incredibly well received and give an exciting boost to the Game in the country and will be further continued evidence of the growth and impact of the development of Rugby across the entire continent of Africa."
John Broadfoot, Joint CEO of LV= SOS Kit Aid, said: "The delivery will help make a positive and tangible impact on young people's lives by giving Madagascan children of all abilities and backgrounds the chance to participate in Rugby. The simple boost to team spirit, pride and confidence that comes with a team wearing the same jerseys is something we can often take for granted and it is fantastic that the next generation of Rugby players in Madagascar will benefit from the experience."
To find out more about LV= SOS Kit Aid, please visit www.lvsoskitaid.com.
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