Tunisia’s Khaled Babbou and Ghana’s Herbert Mensah have both been confirmed as candidates for becoming the new President of Rugby Africa.
More than 30 National Federation heads are expected to gather in Morocco for the upcoming Rugby Africa Summit, marking the end of Abdelaziz Bougja’s long tenure as the President of the continental governing body.
The inaugural edition of the event is scheduled to take place at Adam Park Marrakech Hotel from February 27 to March 2.
The last day of proceedings will see the elective General Assembly held with Babbou, vice-president of the Tunisian Rugby Federation (FTR) and an executive member of Rugby Africa, and Mensah, President and Board chairman of Ghana Rugby, both set to be in contention for the top job.
Babbou’s candidacy was endorsed during a hearing granted by Tunisia’s Secretary of State for Sport, Ahmed Gaaloul.
Joining Babbou at the hearing was FTR President Aref Belkhiria.
Mensah was nominated today by the Ghana Rugby Board.
He and his administration took over the reins at Ghana Rugby in June of 2014.
Mensah has since steered the national governing body, established in 2003, to achieving some remarkable feats, such as introducing a professional online and decentralised rugby management system, scrumIT, that has revolutionised the administrative running of rugby in Ghana.
He was also elected to the Board of the Ghana Olympic Committee in March 2017, owing to his achievements with Ghana Rugby and because he is deemed to be the person who redefined sports administration in the country during his tenure as chairman of Kumasi-based club Asante Kotoko.
"Herbert's nomination is based on his vision to introduce Ghana Rugby to a new era where the most important stakeholders, our rugby players, will benefit from increased participation, better facilities for unions and federations and better support from its governing bodies," a Ghana Rugby statement read.
"As his second priority, he will restore the integrity of the association, Rugby Africa, so that it is truly an association run by its members, the unions and federations, for its members.
"His biggest mission will be to resolve the most important strategic stumbling block, namely sustainable funding, to ensure that the situation that Rugby Africa finds itself in does not continue into the future.
"In his words, 'it will definitely not be business as usual'."
The gathering in Morocco is seen as a pivotal moment in the evolution of Rugby Africa, formerly known as the African Rugby Confederation (CAR), with Bougja’s term of office concluding after 17 years of service.
Originally elected President of the CAR at the 2002 General Assembly in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé, the Moroccan-born Frenchman was re-elected in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Among the anticipated guests at the four-day event are Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa President Mustapha Berraf, International Olympic Committee member Nawal El Moutawakel and World Rugby head of development and international relations David Carrigy.
Former World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset and French Rugby Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte are also due to be present.
The General Assembly will provide an opportunity to renew several trusty partnerships, reinforcing the links between Rugby Africa and the South African Rugby Federation and the FFR.
It will conclude with the presentation of awards to the federations and the election of the new Executive Bureau of Rugby Africa.