BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Zimbabwe rugby side have stepped up their preparations for the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy Pool B tournament to be held in the country in April as the Young Sables seek to earn promotion back to the top-tier of African rugby.
Zimbabwe will be banking on home advantage when they battle it out against Ivory Coast, Morocco and Madagascar for promotion to Pool A, with the tournament set to run from April 1 to 7 at a venue yet to be confirmed.
The hosts will take on Ivory Coast in the opening match, with the winner meeting the winner of the other match pitting Morocco and Madagascar in the final.
Young Sables coach Bob Mahari told NewsDay Sport yesterday that they were pulling all the stops to ensure they returned to Pool A, which would give them an opportunity to compete for a place at the 2020 Junior World Rugby Trophy.
“We believe we should be in Pool A and, therefore, to put substance to that belief, we think, if we prepare properly, we should win the tournament and get back to the top tier,” Mahari said.
“Our goal is to make sure our players keep improving in all aspects, from the physical side (strength and conditioning), technically (positional and unit skills) and mentally (tactical awareness, ability to execute the agreed plan and to consciously focus on the process rather than the outcome).
“We also want to play a high-quality, entertaining brand of rugby that is as much fun to pay as it is to watch it,” Mahari said.
Zimbabwe started their preparations for the upcoming tournament in December last year when the technical team held open trials for aspiring players before a training camp later that month, which also included South Africa-based players.
“We had 48 participants for the December training camp, which was cut down to 40 after the camp, including 12 foreign-based players. At the moment, we have 28 local players that have been training twice a week since January until March. At the end of March, a squad of 30 goes into camp to prepare for qualifiers,” Mahari said.
Meanwhile, Kenya will fight it against Namibia, Senegal and Tunisia in Pool A matches of the Rugby Africa Junior Barthes Trophy to be held in Nairobi next month.
The Pool A winner will qualify for the 2019 Junior World Rugby Trophy set for Estádio Martins Pereira in São José dos Campos, Brazil, from July 9 until July 21.
Zimbabwe Provisional Squad
Forwards: Victor Mupunga, Rivaldo Kwidini, Tatenda Rwenyu, Anthony Mundangepfupfu, Adrian Zivanai, Takunda Magondo, Marcus Nichole, Neil Mawere, Mudiwa Makanza, Ryan Tekede, Tanaka Mumbamarwo, Zephaniah Tasanangurwa, Clyde Muzengeza, Dex Trail, Tonderai Chiwambutsa, Kelvin Kanengoni, James Oworu, Christopher Duffield, Nathan Tanyanyiwa, Jack Charsley, Bright Nyanhete, Matthew Oworu, Ronald Mirimi
Backs: Nigel Tinarwo, Blessing Nota, Tinashe Hombiro, Tabonga Ngonyama, Taine Roelofse, Mazvitaishe Nyamarebvu, Keegan Anderson, Bradley Zvikomborero, MacMillan Mudhara, Tonderai Ndudzo, Lebukang Mokoena, Tapiwa Mirimira, Allan Mawande, Pride Geja, Jeffrey Antonio, Tafara Mutseyekwa, Tarirai Dzimba, Kudakwashe Madiro