COACH Brendan Dawson has brought in a mix of youth and experience in a 40-man squad for Zimbabwe’s maiden appearance in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge as the country tries to forge ahead and put behind the disappointment of failing to qualify for the World Cup.
By Enock Muchinjo
The local side — which will be based in Cape Town for the duration of the two-month tournament — will open against Sharks on May 4 in Durban.
Known as Zimbabwe Academy but pretty much the country’s national team, the squad announced yesterday sets out the basis for the future of the game in this country.
It is a side that cuts across some three generations.
Older players like Jan Ferreira, Keith Murray and Njabulo Ndlovu in their early 30s. The likes of Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Hilton Mudariki, Riaan O’Neill and Ngoni Chibuwe in their mid to late 20s. Then players barely out of their teens into early 20s such as Cleopas Kundiona Jr, Matthew McNab, Tabonga Ngonyamo and Josh Cullen.
Conspicuous by his absence is Denford Mutamangira, Zimbabwe’s sustentative captain of recent times, perhaps signal that a future is already being envisaged without the experienced 33-year-old loosehead prop.
The same could be said on the omission of the ever-present lock forward Fortune Chipendu, a veteran of 70-plus international caps and one of Zimbabwean rugby’s great servants who looks to have finally closed a long chapter in the green-and-white hoops.
Also left out are quite a few players who became regulars in the World Cup qualifiers last year under former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, who appears on his way out of the Zimbabwe job.
Most notable among them is hooker David Makanda as well as loose forwards Tapfuma Parirenyatwa and Takudzwa Mandiwanza.
Zimbabwean rugby’s brightest young prospect, tighthead Farai Mudariki, is not part of the squad as he is in the middle of the English Premiership season with Worcester Warriors.
Another notable exclusion is Germany-based speedster Tafadzwa Chitokwindo.
Forwards: Keith Murray, Cleopas Kundiona, Brandon Sweet, Tyrone Fagan, Neil Mawere, Matthew Mandioma, Clive Musasiwa, Cameron Harrison, Sanele Sibanda, Godwin Mangenje, Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, Jan Ferreira, Lawrence Cleminson, Dustin Andrews, Njabulo Ndlovu, Royal Mwale, Godfrey Muzanarwo, Biselele Tshamala, Michael Botha, George Sawezy, Aiden Burnett, Brian Nyaude, Wade Petzer.
Backs: Brandon Mandivenga, Tabonga Ngonyamo, Kuziwa Kazembe, Matthew McNab, Riaan O’Neill, Daniel Capsopoulos, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Ngoni Chibuwe, Shayne Makombe, Jerry Jaravaza, Ernest Mudzengerere, Shingi Katsvere, Macmillan Mudara, Takudzwa Chieza, Kuda Chiwanza, Jordan Coombes, Josh Cullen.