By Enock Muchinjo
ZIMBABWEAN players have been excluded from this year’s African Leopards rugby XV, an invitation official representative team of the Confederation
of African Rugby (CAR).
The second-ever Leopards side was named this week.
Zimbabwean players also missed out of last year’s side as they were playing the Ivory Coast in a World Cup qualifier over the same period that the Leopards were scheduled to play their first ever match, against a South African Students XV in a curtain-raiser match for the Mandela plate tie between South Africa and Australia at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
This year, the Leopards, sponsored by South African banking giant Absa, will tour the United Kingdom to play the Senior XV of the British Army in London on November 23.
The Leopards will be coached by former Springboks centre, Brendan Venter, who is also a qualified physician. He will be assisted by Frenchman Claude Saurel.
Despite exiting the Africa Cup this year in the first round after a home draw against Madagascar and a shock away defeat to Zambia, Zimbabwe had players who exhibited individual brilliance and deserved to be selected by CAR.
Instead, players from countries such as Cameroon and Tanzania were picked.
Zimbabwean players have complained of unfair treatment at the hands of CAR.
The most influential men at the helm of CAR are president Abedelaziz Bougja of Morocco and administrative manager Paul Sigombe, who is from Uganda. Morocco has supplied three players and Uganda two in the 17-man squad.
Last year, Zimbabwean-born eighthman Munyaradzi Mhonda who now plays for Botswana was chosen for the Leopards side. The Botswana national rugby side is made up mostly of expatriates.
Mhonda played as a lock in Godwin Murambiwa’s Old Hararians’ national league-winning team in 2001, but was lower in the packing order for the national side.