By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam, AIPS Young Reporter, Nigeria
BRUSSELS, May 8, 2018 – The International Sports Press Association (AIPS) has forged a new partnership with APO Group, a leading media relations’ consultancy and press release distribution service in Africa and the Middle East, which was sealed with a memorandum of understanding signed on May 8 during the 81st AIPS Congress holding at the Le Plaza Hotel, Brussels.
The MOU which was signed by President of AIPS Gianni Merlo, AIPS Africa president Mitchel Obi and Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard who is the Founder and CEO at APO Group is targeted at developing Rugby in Africa.
“The popularity of rugby is exploding all over Africa and rugby is now the fastest growing sport on the continent,”Pompigne-Mognard said during his presentation.
He added: “The number of African women and girls playing rugby has increased by 50 percent between 2016 and 2017. In 2017, 20 percent of rugby players in Africa are women and girls. In Ghana, the Muslim community have embraced the game and 50 percent of the participants are female.”
Since it was founded in 1924, AIPS, which is the apex body for international sports media across the globe has continued to cater for the profession and its professionals, making sure that sports journalists do their job in the best atmosphere possible while ensuring transparency and commitment.
There are more than 150 National Sports Journalist Associations (NSJA’s) and nearly 10,000 individual members from more than 150 countries affiliated to the global association, including 42 African countries. In Africa, the sub-association, AIPS Africa, counts 6000 members working as reporters, writers, photographers, commentators and editors in print, online and broadcast platforms.
Following the MOU signing, the new Rugby Africa Gold Cup trophy was unveiled at the congress.
The 2018 edition of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup will be held between June – August 2018 and will feature six teams; Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Tunisia.
The winners of the tournament will go to Rugby World Cup 2019 as Africa 1 and play New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the Repechage Winner in Pool B.
The Rugby Africa/ APO Group partnership
Rugby Africa has existed since 1986 but was formerly known as the Confederation of African Rugby until December 2014. It is one of the six regional associations of World Rugby, which is the world governing body of the sport.
As per the official website of the continental body, it boasts of 48 members – including 22 members or associate members of World Rugby, 10 members or associate members of Rugby Africa and 16 new countries working with Rugby Africa.
Chairman of Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja once said in an interview that when he first started his mandate as chairman of Rugby Africa in 2002, “there were only six African countries playing rugby on a regular basis: Morocco, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Namibia and South Africa”. Hence the sport’s progress on the continent is not in doubt.
However the need to further develop rugby and expand its reach across the continent saw Rugby Africa welcome APO Group to its fold as official partner on November 12, 2017.
The partnership means, APO Group will be strategically involved in the ten major continental competitions organised by Rugby Africa, including the iconic Africa Gold Cup – which in 2018 doubles as a qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan – and the Africa Rugby 7s tournament, which is a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.
Through media and publicity, APO Group hope to create a long-lasting Rugby impact that will sweep through the continent and beyond while also performing as Rugby Africa’s global sponsorship agency, a position they were assigned to just a few days ago. The new agreement will see them assist Rugby Africa in securing corporate partners for the ten major international competitions in Africa.