HomeSportSables seek to end 20-year jinx

Sables seek to end 20-year jinx

DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Sables will be seeking to finally end a 20-year winless jinx against their perennial nemesis Namibia in Test rugby when the two sides clash in the final of the World Rugby Stellenbosch Challenge at Markötter Stadium in South Africa tomorrow.

The two southern African rivals will renew their fierce rivalry when they clash in the showpiece match of the inaugural edition of the four-nation tournament which kicked off last Sunday.

The match will be a very significant one for the Sables to measure the progress they have made over the last three years as they seek to qualify for their first World Cup in three decades. Zimbabwe have only beaten Namibia three times in 32 matches with their last win over their rivals coming way back in July 2001 when they beat the Welwitschias 27-26 in an Africa Cup encounter at Hartsfield Rugby Ground in Bulawayo.

Now exactly two decades since that famous triumph, the current squad will be hoping to set the tone ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers by finally getting a win against their bitterest rivals for a spot at next year’s global showpiece.

Zimbabwe will be hoping to build on the momentum from their 24-22 upset against higher ranked Brazil in the first match of the tournament which propelled them two places up to position 32 on the World Rugby Rankings. Namibia, who are ranked eight places higher than the Sables, are also on a high after underlining their favourites tag ahead of the tournament with a convincing 60-24 victory over Kenya.

Matches between Zimbabwe and Namibia have in the past been closely fought.

However in their previous encounter – in a 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier at Hartsfield in Bulawayo — saw the Welwitschias claim a dominant 50-28 against the Sables who were then under the tutelage of ex-Springboks coach Peter de Villiers.

Sables skipper Hilton Mudariki said they will be aiming to continue their winning momentum in order to improve their world ranking.

“The win against Brazil was very important for us; obviously we have gone up in the world ranking which is exactly what we want,” he said.

“We want to continue building, heading into the qualifiers next year, so that was the right step in the right direction for us. We want to get a win this weekend which would allow us to continue climbing the world rankings.”

Zimbabwe’s clash against Namibia kicks off at 1600 hours and will be preceded by the Stellenbosch Challenge Bronze Match between Kenya and South American side Brazil. The matches will be live on the World Rugby Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.

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