BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
NEDBANK Zimbabwe has pledged to play a leading role in ensuring the Sables achieve their goal of qualifying for the 2023 Rugby World Cup after being unveiled as the new headline sponsors of the senior national fifteens rugby team ahead of this year’s Rugby Africa Cup.
The Sables, who made the last of their two tournament appearances at the World Cup in 1991, are aiming to finally end their long absence at the global showpiece by qualifying for the upcoming tournament in France.
The Brendan Dawson-coached side will begin their quest to reach the global rugby union tournament by featuring in the Rugby Africa Cup in Tunisia in July which also serves as the qualification pathway for 2023 Rugby World Cup.
As the countdown continues ahead of the Africa Cup, the Sables who are currently in the middle of an intense six week training camp, received a timely boost after Nedbank Zimbabwe unveiled a sponsorship package worth
US$120 000, which will initially run until March 2022.
Nedbank Zimbabwe’s executive head sales and origination Heresy Herry said the commercial banking company, want to play a leading role in helping the Sables’ realise their goal of qualifying for the World Cup.
“As we embark on the journey to qualify for the World Cup we want to be front and centre in terms of making that possible,” Herry said during the sponsorship unveiling ceremony at Old Georgians Sports Club in Harare yesterday.
“One of the ways that we want to see a payback is firstly seeing what the guys put in-between the try lines, we are also going to be watching that keenly. Secondly, in terms of the qualifiers, it is our aspiration that you’re going to go full throttle and meet your objectives. Ultimately we also aspire to see rugby growing…we need to see more in the formerly marginalised communities,” he said.
The sponsorship will result in Nedbank’s name being carried in front of the famous green-and-white hoops of the Sables — starting in the upcoming composite friendly matches against Zambia and Namibia.
The Sables will take on Zambia at Harare Sports Club on June 2 and June 5 before taking on Namibia in home and away fixtures on June 12 and 19 respectively, while another preparatory match against the Blue Bulls Select has been lined up before the team leaves for Tunisia.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) vice-president (north) Losson Mtongwiza said the sponsorship from Nedbank and some of their other partners is a sign of confidence in local rugby as a brand worth supporting.
“This shows the confidence that Nedbank and the other brands that are around the Sables Trust have in not only the team but also in the Zimbabwe Rugby Union. It shows that we have a great product and we are very humbled by that,” he said.
Seasoned rugby administrator Coleen de Jong, who chairs the Sables Trust, a special body constituted to secure sponsorship support for the team said: “It is a great honour to announce our partnership agreement with Nedbank, who will become the official banking partner of the Sables Trust. We are very grateful for their commitment and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship that I hope will take us all the way to World Cup 2023.
“In these very difficult times we are very overwhelmed by the constant financial support, encouragement and donations in cash and kind we have received to date. The performance and participation of the team and their coaches would simply not be possible without it. There has been a strong foundation built for the team and we look forward to seeing their success in the weeks to come.”
The sponsorship by Nedbank Zimbabwe comes at a time when the Sables have been receiving generous support from local and foreign companies and individuals in their efforts to have the best preparations ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
In addition to Nedbank, other companies who have backed the Sables in cash and kind ahead of the Africa Cup include apparel sponsors BLK, Total Fitness, Bearhug, Athstat, Agricon, Machinery Exchange, Chitembe River Lodge, Proton, Pepsi, Unifreight, Amabokoboko, Veldskoen, Food Lovers Market, Solutions Centre and Koala Meats.