DANIEL NHAKANISO IN CAPE TOWN France-based Zimbabwe national rugby team props Farai Mudariki and Michael Kumbirai have both been ruled out of the Sables’ Rugby World Cup qualification bid after suffering injuries towards the end of the just-ended season.
The highly-rated pair were expected to be named in Zimbabwe’s final squad for next month’s 2022 Rugby Africa Cup in France, which doubles as the final qualification tournament for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
South Africa-born tight head Kumbirai, who has played for South African rugby franchises Sharks and Stormers was on the books of French side SA XV Charente Rugby and played a key role as they secured promotion from the third tier Nationale to the Pro D2 competition.
The 26-year-old powerful front-rower will however have to wait longer before making his international debut after suffering yet-to-be-specified injury which is set to rule him out of action for several weeks.
Another major absentee from the Zimbabwe squad, which is set to be announced today, is powerful front rower Mudariki, who is fresh from an impressive season with Pro D2 side USON Nevers.
Mudariki played a key role in USON Nevers’ remarkable run to the Pro D2 playoffs, where their strong push for promotion to the Top 14 eventually came to an end in the semi-finals.
Sadly for Zimbabwe, Mudariki suffered a cruciate ligament injury to his right knee in their final match of the season, which is set to rule him out of action for over six months.
A fierce ball carrier in broken play and strong in the scrum, Mudariki has been one of the first names on the USON Nevers team sheet this term and a major driving force in the club’s strong push for promotion to the top tier of French rugby.
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The Sables star was rewarded with a two-year contract extension with French second-tier club in June last year due to his brilliant form.
In the absence of both Mudariki and Cleopas Kundiona, the Sables are likely to rely heavily on the equally gifted prop Kundiona, who is fresh from a solid season at French third-tier side SO Chambéry.
The 22-year-old is set to join Pro D2 club USON Nevers ahead of the new season where he will join his compatriot Mudariki.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s final squad for the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup will be announced today ahead of the Zimbabwe Goshawks’ final Currie Cup First Division match against the Valke, which will be at Wynberg Boys’ High School.
The match kicks off at 2.30pm.
Zimbabwe Goshawks will be seeking a strong finish to the campaign after losing their last three successive matches against SWD Eagles, Leopards and Eastern Province Elephants.
After the final Currie Cup First Division match, the Zimbabwe side, which will be boosted by the arrival of some foreign-based players, will shift their attention to their Test against Netherlands in Amsterdam on June 25.