Sables depart for Gold Cup in Kenya

THE Zimbabwe Sables head to Kenya this morning for a Rugby Africa Gold Cup encounter against the Simbas in Nairobi on Saturday.

Zimbabwe need nothing short of victory to keep their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan alive.

The Sables did not do themselves any favours when they were held to a 23-23 draw by Morocco at Harare Sports Club on June 16 in the last qualifier.

With Namibia maintaining a 100 percent record to top the six-team log with 10 points, followed by Kenya on five, the Sables must beat the East Africans for them to have any interest in the qualification process.

Namibia followed up their 55-6 triumph over Uganda in Windhoek with a 118-0 drubbing of Tunisia at home last Saturday.

Kenya made a good start to their campaign with a 28-24 win over Morocco in Casablanca. Morocco occupy third place, while Zimbabwe are fourth, only better than Tunisia and Uganda.

From the team that played against Morocco, scrumhalves Hilton Mudariki and Peter du Toit are not available together with loose forward Njabulo Ndlovu, centre Ngoni Chibuwe as well as prop Gabriel Sipapate.

The uncapped trio of prop Cleopas Kundiona, lock Johannes Stander and utility back Jerry Jaravaza have made the trip with veteran backline player Tafadzwa Mhende and loose forward Lucky Sithole recalled.

After Kenya, the Sables travel to Tunisia to take on the North Africans in Monastir on July 7.

Zimbabwe’s biggest assignment in the competition is on August 4 when they meet Namibia at Hartsfield Rugby Ground in Bulawayo before they round up this year’s Gold Cup with an away fixture against Uganda in Kampala on August 18.

Winners of the Rugby Africa Cup will automatically qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, while the runners-up will have an opportunity to make it to Japan via the repechage tournament where they will play against runners-up from other continents.

Sables squad for Kenya

Denford Mutamangira (captain), David Makanda, Farai Mudariki, Johannes Stander, Brian Nyaude, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Connor Pritchard, Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, Ernest Mudzengerere, Lenience Tambwera, Matthew McNab, Brandon Mandivenga, Kudzai Mashawi, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Shingirai Katsvere, Matthew Mandioma, Cleopas Kundiona, Lawrence Cleminson, Fortune Chipendu, Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, Jerry Jaravaza, Dylan Baptista, Ziyanda Khupe, Tafadzwa Mhende, Lucky Sithole. - Chronicle