BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Sables preparations for the final phase of qualifying for the 2023 Rugby World Cup are set to go a gear up next month when they feature in a high-profile quadrangular tournament in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Zimbabwe will battle it out in official Test matches with South American side Brazil as well as continental rivals Namibia and Kenya in the four-nation rugby tournament which will run from November 12-21.
According to the tournament schedule released yesterday, the Sables will open their campaign with a historic encounter against Brazil on November 14 in what will be the two nations’ first meeting in international rugby.
The Test match will see the world number 24 ranked Brazil rugby union team, which is popularly known as the Tupis, facing the 34th placed Sables with world rankings points and a place in the final on the line.
The winner of the match will, six days later, take on the winner of the other encounter pitting Kenya against Namibia in the final.
While confirming Zimbabwe’s participation in the quadrangular tournament, Sables team manager Jason Maritz revealed that the Sables, who begin camp on November 1, are also earmarking to play a preparatory match in the same week in preparation for the Brazil encounter.
“The Sables will be taking part in a quadrangular tournament in Stellenbosch from November 12 to 21. We are also looking to have a game on November 6 for preparations with camp starting on November 1 in Stellenbosch. The squad will be announced in due course,” Maritz said in a brief statement.
The quadrangular tournament will be another opportunity for the Sables to fine tune their preparations for the final phase of qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup.
Zimbabwe cruised to 101-3 and 95-5 victories over West African minnows Burkina Faso this winter as they easily topped Pool 2 in the first stage of qualifying for the global tournament to be hosted by France. The Sables had been scheduled to face Tunisia too, but the North Africans were forced to withdraw due to the pandemic.
After clearing the first hurdle Zimbabwe will now take on West African side Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals of the final qualifying knockout tournament to be held in France in July next year.
The Sables will be aiming to win the African qualifying tournament which would guarantee them the continent’s one direct qualification spot for the World Cup.
The runners-up from the qualification tournament will go into a four-team final qualification tournament where they face sides from Asia/Pacific, the Americas and Europe.
The Sables are aiming to qualify in their first Rugby World Cup of the professional era, having made their two appearances in 1987 and 1991.
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