HOSTS Zimbabwe were given a tough assignment for the pool stages of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy competition after being drawn in the tougher of the two groups for the tournament to be held in the capital between April 19 to May 1.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
According to the draw, which was released by World Rugby (formerly International Rugby Board), the Young Sables will battle with Uruguay and Pacific Islanders Fiji and Samoa in Group A. Group B comprises the United States, African champions Namibia, Hong Kong and Spain.
The pools for the tournament, which will be played at Harare Sports Club’s cricket section and the National Sports Stadium, were based on results at the previous championship held in Hong Kong, China, two years ago.
Zimbabwe, who are making their first appearance at the second-tier global rugby competition since the 2012 edition held in the US, face a tough challenge in Group A, which features some of the favourites.
Former Sables winger Shaun de Souza, who is the part of the Young Sables technical department, together with Brendon Brider and Bob Mahari, said Zimbabwe was in the group of death.
“Our pool is definitely the group of death,” he said.
“You’ve got Fiji in there, who will definitely be the team to beat after coming from the World Rugby Under-20 Championship. Samoa and Uruguay are also professional sides because they regularly compete at the World Cup, so it will be tough.
“However, with the squad we are hoping to assemble and the added advantage of playing at home, we will give it our best shot.”
He said that the training squad announced in January was expected to regroup on March 6 for a training camp that will see both foreign and locally-based players coming together for the second time ahead of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy competition.
Meanwhile, World Rugby competitions manager, Simon Kibble is expected in the country today for a two-day visit to assess the country’s state of preparedness ahead of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy.
Kibble, who visited the country, last year before Zimbabwe was confirmed as the hosts of the prestigious competition, is also expected to meet Sports and Recreation minister Makhosini Hlongwane.
World Rugby U20 Trophy 2016 Draw
Group A: Fiji, Samoa, Uruguay, Zimbabwe (host)
Group B: Hong Kong, Namibia, Spain, United States
Zimbabwe Under-20 training squad
Forwards: Connor Pritchard (Falcon College), Cole Bond (St John’s College), Aiden Burnett (St John’s College), Tanaka Chikwezvero (Maritzburg, SA), Tinashe Gonese (SA), Ronald Jiri (Dale College), Muchineripi Mangenje (Prince Edward), Justin Mendelsohn (Sharks), Rodrick Mubaiwa (UK), Tinotenda Musasanura (CBC), Kudakwashe Ndoro (Prince Edward), Martin Shioma (Limpopo Blue Bulls), Panashe Sora (Prince Edward), B. Muntanga (Falcon), S. Bhasera (UJ), J Makoni (PE), L Kenny (SGC), S. Magwenzi (Churchill), Ndaba (PE), T. Bwerinofa (Kyle), T. Zhoya (UJ), C. Butler (Falcon), D Nyamugama (Free State), L Ngwenya (US), T Muchena (SGC), K Chisango (SGC), T Mangwana (Aus).
Backs: Russell Dinha (Prince Edward), Tadiwa Gochera (St Benedict’s College), Shingirai Katsvere (Prince Edward), Mudiwa Manhombo (St Benedict’s College), Tatenda Matoramusha (Prince Edward), Joshua Gando (Lomagundi), Ernest Mudzengerere (Prince Edward), Tawanda Ngosi (Durban), Matthew Ushewokunze (Falcon College), Ngoni Zinyama (UK), C Nyakudya (Falcon), R Elliot (Durban), M Muswaburi (Nottingham Academy), K Kazembe (WPI), M Musvaiburi (UK), G Mavara (Dale), Maupah (Goldridge), Phiri (Falcon), R Chionyere (Churchill), F Murinye (SGC), T Mapfumo (Kyle), K Munangi (Maritzburg), D McRoberts (UK), T Vheriwa (PH), A Bruce (SGC), T Moses (PE), T Gamanya (Kyle)