The local referee will officiate during the Rugby World Cup qualifiers

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwean TOP rugby referee Precious Pazani has been named among a group of 13 elite match officials who will officiate at the 2022 Men’s Rugby Africa Cup scheduled for July 1-10 in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille , France.

This year’s Rugby Africa Cup will also be the final qualifying tournament for the Rugby World Cup Africa 2023, which will also be played in France.

Pazani, whose career has grown steadily in recent years, is the only female official announced by World Rugby yesterday as she continues to move closer to realizing her dream of becoming the first local referee to feature in the Cup of the world.

She is joined by fellow talented Zimbabwean rugby referee, Talent Gandiwa, on the list which includes 13 officials from 12 countries, including six from Africa.

Besides the duo Pazani and Gandiwa, the other African referees on the panel are Sylvain Mane (Senegal), Aymen Jriji (Tunisia), Victor Ojuku (Kenya) and the Namibian Nicardo Pienaar.

The other five referees are from the host country, namely; Vivien Praderie, Ludovic Cayré, Philippe Bonhoure, Denis Grenouillet and Eric Briquet Campin.

Scotsman Ben Blain and England’s Anthony Woodthorpe complete the list.

Selection for Africa rugby’s peak tournament follows a comprehensive review of match officials’ performance over a period of time and features an exciting mix of youth and experience.

The duo of Pazani and Gandiwa will serve as assistant referees to Mane in the quarter-final match between favorites Namibia and Burkina Faso with Grenouillet in charge of TV match official (TMO) duties.

France’s Praderie will manage Les Sables’ quarter-final game against Ivory Coast on July 2 with Jriji and Ojuku as assistants.

The appointments of the Zimbabwean duo of Pazani and Gandiwa for the upcoming Rugby Africa Cup is recognition of the quality of match officials produced by the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Society.

For Pazani, it’s another reminder of the great strides she’s made in her career since making the transition from basketball to rugby, where she played for Zimbabwe in women’s rugby sevens before moving into the arbitration in 2014.

Earlier this year, Pazani was named by World Rugby for the Men’s Six Nations Under-20 Championship played in March in Europe, while she is also expected to officiate at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series which will be played at the Chile in August.

The athletic coach from Lomagundi College is the only appointed match official from the African continent for the tournament. Others come from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Fiji, Singapore and the United States of America.

The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series acts as the promotion and relegation scheme for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, with the men’s and women’s winners of the Challenger Series replacing the lowest-ranked base team in the World Series for the following season.

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