HomeSportZim Young Sables keen to reclaim their place

Zim Young Sables keen to reclaim their place

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

YOUNG Sables coach Shaun De Souza is confident that the current crop of Zimbabwe Under-20 players can help Zimbabwe reclaim their position as one of the top junior teams on the continent and regular participants in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy.

Once regarded as one of the top nations not only on the continent, but around the world in the Under-20 category, the Young Sables have been a pale shadow of their former self in recent years after a string of poor results on the continent.

This year the Junior Sables will not have an opportunity to qualify for the next edition of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy after to return to the top-tier of African rugby following an embarrassing home defeat against Madagascar on home soil two years ago.

The Young Sables will begin their quest to return to the top tier under the tutelage of De Souza, who took over as head coach of the team from former coach Bob Mahari.

De Souza is assisted by former Sables captain Costa Dinha and the Gateway sports director Marvin Chirume, who is a former head coach of Zimbabwe’s Under-17 team.

The Prince Edward School head coach early this week released talent laden expanded squad of 60 players ahead of matches against Zambia and Namibia.

Zimbabwe’s Under-20 side is scheduled to play Zambia away on May 29, with a return fixture a week later. They will then play continental powerhouses Namibia in home and away matches scheduled for June 16 and June 20 respectively.

And De Souza believes the squad announced early this week and the upcoming matches are part of their vision to ensure they build a solid base towards the team’s return to the global tournament.

Zimbabwe last featured in the second tier World Rugby competition for Under-20 players when the country hosted the tournament in 2016, while before that the Junior Sables qualified for three successive editions of the competitions from 2010 to 2012.

“We undoubtedly have the talent to go and compete for the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy. This is a sensitive age group with boys going off to college, university and starting work, we have opened up our squad to cover a three-year window. For example the current Under-20 age group are boys born 2001 but we have boys 2002 and 2003 in our system so we build continuity and don’t have to start from zero every season,” De Souza told IndependentSport.

“Unfortunately for us, we have taken over the reins of the Junior Sables while ranked 6th in the Barthes Trophy pool so only top four are going due to Covid to compete in the competition. However, we are fortunate to have game time and that’s what counts as we prepare for 2022 Barthes trophy. Our current sixth place ranking in the Barthes Trophy is definitely a position we should not be in and my team and I will do all we can to improve the ranking and put the Junior Sables back in the WRT tier,” De Souza added.

The Young Sables squad announced last week features several foreign-based players headlined by the highly-rated teenage sensation Thabani “TJ” Maguranyanga, who recently completed a dream move by signing for top French rugby club, ASM Clermont Auvergne.

De Souza, however, admits that it might prove difficult for some of the foreign-based players to be available for the matches due to the Covid-19 travel restriction still in place in other countries around the world.

Junior Sables squad

Forwards: Tomuvonga Msasanure , Runyararo Mukangure , Scotty Patson, Arthur Mambanga, Gealan Jaricha, Happias Zhou Veshal Jasi, Marlon Guwuriro, Declan Ralphs, Tawanda Banda, Lawrence Old, Takunda Makiwa, Simbarashe Siraha Panashe Matapure, Tanaka GondoMukandapi , Denzel Dhlamini, Solomon Zawe, Aaron Juma, Andrew Rinomhota Tadiwanashe Kainga, Elvis Muroiwa, Gary Kagande Nicholas Chipanje and Jason Makwabarara.

l Foreign-based players pending availability confirmation:

United States: Craig Snyder;

South Africa: Daniel Johnson, Graham Hoal, Charles Gamhiwa, Lance Annandale and Farai Madzima.

Backs: Carlos Matematema, Tinomukudza Chipfumbu, Thulani Sithole, Takudzwa Musingwini, Stephen Terera, Benjamin Pattenden, Carl Kawodza, Ryan Mutandwa, Crispen Mashingaidze, Rukudzo Ndoro, Brooklyn Chikaka, Dylan Grant, Brandan Mukundu, Paul Chadi, Liberty Sibanda, Tariro Tapfuma, Kingstone Zinyama, David Yosa, Krishna Kwenda, Brendan Mason, Cletos Sunduza, Kudakwashe Makoni, Simbarashe Kanyangarara

l Foreign-based players pending availability confirmation:

France: Thabani Maguranyanga;

South Africa: Munashe Chaitezvi, Tavonga Ablant, Tawanda Matipano, Ethan Wilson, Tanaka Ndabambi and Tadiwa Murewa.

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