BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) is targeting more game time for the Sables ahead of the final phase of qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup next year following their impressive return to competitive action against Burkina Faso last week.
The Sables got their bid to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France off to a solid start after registering back-to-back impressive wins over lowly-ranked Burkina Faso in the pool stages of the Rugby Africa Cup, which doubles as the first phase qualifying for the global tournament.
Brendan Dawson’s charges enjoyed a dream start with a 101-3 victory in their first match at Old Georgians Sports Club in Harare last Sunday — one of their biggest wins in international rugby — before completing a double over their opponents in style with a 95-5 win at the same venue four days later.
The comfortable wins ensured the Sables progressed to the quarterfinals of the Rugby Africa Cup as group winners and will face Ivory Coast next year.
A win against the Elephants will see the Sables meeting their nemesis Namibia in the semi-finals.
The Namibians are overwhelming favourites to easily brush aside the challenge of Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals.
ZRU president Aaron Jani told NewsDay Sport that the wins against Burkina Faso had given the Sables’ technical team an opportunity to assess the players at their disposal.
Jani said in an effort to ensure that the team is adequately prepared for the final phase of qualifiers for the World Cup, they would soon be engaging potential opponents for preparatory matches.
“You will remember that in the last year-and-a-half, we haven’t played, so this was the second set of games that we have played, the first ones being the friendlies against Zambia,” Jani said.
“So this has given our panel a good chance to assess our strengths and weaknesses and I am very encouraged that we have received this opportunity before we move on to the next stage where we are set to face Ivory Coast.
“Right now, what we need to do is to regroup and on the advice of the technical team make the adjustments that are necessary and obviously get game time, so this will be the overall riding factor for us to find game time before we get to play Ivory Coast. We will be contacting a lot of potential teams that we can play against so that we get time before we play Ivory Coast.”
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