BY DANIEL NHAKANISO THE Sables Trust has assured players technical team members and other service providers that they will be able to meet their full financial obligations for the country’s participation in the Currie Cup in South Africa and the Rugby Africa Cup in France.
Zimbabwe’s flagship rugby side had one of the busiest seasons ever after setting up a 10-week camp in South Africa for the entire Currie Cup First Division season before playing against Netherlands in a high-profile international match in Amsterdam in the leadup to the continental tournament in France.
This year’s Africa Cup doubled as the qualifiers for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Due to a combination of the tough economic environment, which resulted in a budget deficit, players are yet to receive some of their outstanding allowances.
However, Sables Trust chairperson Colleen de Jong is confident that they will be able to meet their obligations to the players and other service providers.
The Sables Trust was founded in 2017 with the sole task to help with the player welfare issues and logistics of the national men’s rugby side, the Sables.
“Please be assured that we are fully committed to ensuring the outstanding obligations to players and management and service providers are met as quickly as possible,” De Jong told StandardSport in an interview.
“We are actively engaged with a number of stakeholders and will resolve the situation.
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“At this point in time we cannot in good conscience commit to a date, but we will keep players updated regularly. We are grateful to all our sponsors for their continued support
“Once again; we cannot stress any more strongly that we are committed to meeting these obligations and are fully engaged in this matter in an effort to regularize the current situation,” she said.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president Aaron Jani, whose executive worked together with the Sables Trust to ensure the Sables had the best preparations ahead of the Rugby World Cup qualifiers, said his executive committee had been briefed on the situation by the Sables Trust.
“Yes, Exco has been updated officially by the Sables Trust chairperson on the Africa Cup and the Currie up, especially on the finances and the deficits expected as well as the outstanding player allowances. Exco in turn updated the Board at our second board meeting of the year two weekends ago,” Jani said.
“We are now working with the Sables Trust to make good on some of the outstanding obligations. It is important to understand that financial matters in our economy don’t move as fast as we would like, especially when we are dealing with the regulatory requirements of the auction. Naturally, delays will be expected!”
Hopes were high that the Sables would win Africa Cup in France last month to clinch the continent’s sole World Cup qualification place but the Sables were overpowered 34-19 in the semi-finals by Namibia.
The Namibians later outclassed Kenya 34-0 in the final to qualify for their seventh consecutive World Cup appearance while Zimbabwe will have to wait another four years to try and qualify for the country’s first Rugby World Cup since 1992.
ZRU is, however, seeking to build on the momentum that was generated during the qualifiers to further elevate local rugby and lay a solid foundation for 2027 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.