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Rugby union in Madagascar

Rugby union in Madagascar
Country Madagascar
National team Madagascar
First played 1890s
Registered players 22,540[1]
Clubs 410
National competitions

Rugby union in Madagascar is a popular team sport. Madagascar is ranked 42nd worldwide by World Rugby (WR),[2] and boasts over 22,540 registered players and more than 410 rugby clubs.[3] Although Madagascar lacks a professional competition as it is one of the poorest countries in the world, it does possess a national club competition that is extensively covered in the national print media, as well as having matches televised. Rugby is considered the national sport of Madagascar.[4][5]

Governing body

The governing body is the Fédération Malagasy de Rugby.[1]

History

Rugby union was introduced to Madagascar in the 1890s by French railroad workers who played the game in the capital, Antananarivo, during the colonial period. Historically the sport was seen as a violent pastime of the poor, however recent developments have seen a huge increase in the sport's profile throughout the country.[6] The Madagascar team, locally referred to as the Makis (a Malagasy word for the Ring-tailed Lemur), reached the finals of the 2005 Africa Cup, increasing nationwide interest in the sport. Since then they have been semi-finalists in the 2006 Africa Cup and finalists again in the 2007 Africa Cup.

Madagascar is a founder member of the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR), which was launched officially in January 1986, in Tunis, Tunisia. Rugby officials from Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Seychelles also attended.

Competitions

The national club competition is structured along the same lines as the Argentine club championship. The regional unions within Madagascar send their top club(s) from the previous year's championship to compete in the nationwide top-flight league called the Top 8.

The national team also competes annually in the Africa Cup, where matches sometimes double as Confederation of African Rugby Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

Popularity

In addition to large participant numbers, rugby is popular with spectators in Madagascar. The Top 8 has average attendance figures of over 8,000, whilst the league final, and most international fixtures, attract crowds upward of 30,000 at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina in the capital. It is common that international rugby matches substantially outdraw those of football at the Mahamasia. Rugby's popularity is strongest in the central highlands region including Antananarivo.

Rugby union's popularity in the country was recently demonstrated during the Division 1B Final of the Africa Cup, held in Madagascar. Madagascar triumphed over Namibia in front of 40,000 fans to stay in the qualification process for the 2015 Rugby World Cup to be held in the United Kingdom.[7]

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ a b "International Rugby Board - MADAGASCAR". Irb.com. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  2. ^ Official World Rugby Rankings
  3. ^ Official Madagascar Playing Numbers
  4. ^ "Madagascar take Sevens honours". Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  5. ^ "14-place jump for Madagascar". Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  6. ^ Rugby and the Red Island
  7. ^ "Madagascar climb rankings after shock win". rugbyworldcup.com. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.