Zimbabwe Under-18 rugby team coach Scott Gray is confident the Old Mutual Junior Sables can end their eight-year winless run over old foes, Namibia when the two sides clash on the final day of the 2018 Coca-Cola Academy Week at Paarl Gimnasium, in Western Cape, South Africa, tomorrow.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN PAARL, WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA
Led by inspirational captain, Matthew Oworu, the Old Mutual Junior Sables are on the verge of an unbeaten campaign in their maiden appearance at the Coca-Cola Academy Week, after registering two consecutive wins in their first two matches.
Gray’s charges opened the schoolboy rugby tournament with a hard-fought 29-27 win over the South African Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) on Monday before putting on a superb show in a convincing 44-19 victory over Blue Bulls Country Districts two days later.
And tomorrow, the Junior Sables will be chasing history on two fronts as they seek, not only to complete their first unbeaten campaign at the South African Youth Weeks since 2007, but also their first win over Namibia at that level since 2010.
Gray, who is now in his second year as Junior Sables head coach, reckons that his charges have a very good chance of achieving both milestones.
“It’s going to be very important to win this match, it’s very important for the boys. That’s the Test match where they can measure themselves against another country and that’s the number one prize we want to get,” Gray said ahead of the match.
“In the first match, we didn’t perform as well as we could have, there were a lot of individual effort and not playing as a team. In the second, we played as a team, we were outstanding. So to beat Namibia would be just that icing on the cake.”
The Zimbabwe-born former Scotland rugby international and former English Premiership star also revealed that he was spoiled for choice ahead of the match.
Gray used his strongest side for the opening match before ringing the changes for the second game in line with the competition’s rules.
“I told the players that they have made the decision of who gets a starting position against Namibia. The Namibia game will be difficult, but it’s absolutely everything that we want, it’s a fantastic situation to be in that we want. I’m very spoiled for choice on who is going to start,” he said.
While the Junior Sables have their tails up after registering wins in their first two matches, the Namibians are equally confident as they are also seeking an unbeaten campaign.
The Namibians have also won their opening two matches after comfortably beating Valke Country Districts 41-8, before scoring a last gasp penalty to edge Griquas 18-15 on Wednesday.
Last year, Zimbabwe lost 27-24 to Namibia in a match they led 14-7 at the break.