Herbert Mensah, President of Ghana Rugby and Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) Board Members, holding the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton at gala dinner in Accra on Sunday 19 March 2017
Mr Herbert Mensah, President of Ghana Rugby and Board Member of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), said that he and his administration have their eyes squarely fixed on world cups for Ghana Rugby on Sunday night March 19 after a gala dinner organised by the Australian High Commission in partnership with the Azumah Nelson foundation, the Ghana Olympic Committee and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation to receive the Queen’s Commonwealth Baton Relay to Ghana.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II set the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay in motion following a star-studded commencement ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 13 March 2017 and it sneaked into Ghana like a thief in the night after its first journey through Sierra Leone.
The Queen’s Baton will arrive on the Gold Coast for the XXI Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony on 4 April 2018, where Her Majesty, or a representative, will remove the message from the Baton and read it aloud to officially open the Games.
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will feature both a men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens tournament after Rugby’s readmittance to the Olympics at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
It will be the first Commonwealth Games to include a women’s rugby sevens competition in its sports program.
“Although we will probably not qualify for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, my administration and I have committed Ghana Rugby to reach for the stars by targeting participation in the Rugby World Cup, the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games in the foreseeable future,” Mensah said.
According to Mensah Ghana Rugby is in the process of completing a Quadrennial Plan to prepare the Ghana Eagles – men, women, boys and girls – for world Rugby events.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day and given the embryonic stage of Rugby in Ghana many may think we are unrealistic to target these global events in such a short space of time. One has to, however, start somewhere and never give up chasing that Olympic dream that is the ultimate for most athletes,” he said.
As part of the preparation for achieving these big ideals Ghana Rugby will be hosting the Africa Cup Regional Championship between Benin, Ghana and Togo that will take place at the Accra Sports Stadium between 29 April and 6 May 2017.
Mensah also stressed the importance for both Ghana and Ghana Rugby to host the tournament successfully by stating the following facts as part of the motivation to both the government and corporate sponsors to take an active part in the tournament.
The hosting of this tournament by Ghana is important to Ghana for the following reasons:
- The tournament provides an excellent opportunity to showcase Ghana as the true beacon in Africa and to exceed global expectations in terms of Ghana as a progressive and extremely hospitable country with world-class people, abilities and facilities to host an international tournament of this nature as good, if not better, as anyone else can;
- Rugby Union is the second biggest sport in the world after football. The Rugby World Cup in 2015 enjoyed a global audience of 120 million plus viewers and more than 6.6 million players across 120 countries participate in rugby on a regular basis;
- The tournament is both an international event that will have exposure globally, but also in ECOWAS specifically as this forms part of the West African leg of the Africa Rugby tournament structure that is the pathway for Ghana to eventually qualify for the World Rugby Cup, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Tournament and many other World Rugby tournaments including for women and youth teams;
- Rugby is also a sport that is played in both the Olympics and in the Commonwealth Games and it has a real potential to fly Ghana’s flag high in both events and to become a symbol of pride to all Ghanaians;
- The hosting of the tournament will pave the way to Full Membership of World Rugby that will result in development grants from World Rugby and thus make Ghana Rugby less dependent on support from other governing bodies;
- Rugby has taken a country like Kenya to the world stage in both the Rugby World Cup and World Rugby Sevens Series and that has meant an enormous lot for the country as a whole. If Kenya could achieve that, there is no reason why Ghana can’t follow in their footsteps or even do better;
- Hosting of the tournament may open doors to Ghana’s elite athletes, as is the case with football, to get international contracts that may change livelihoods and improve the quality of Ghana’s top athletes.