Sables re­in­stated in Africa Cup 1A

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Mehluli Moyo Se­nior Sports Re­porter

GOOD news has come the way of Zim­bab­wean rugby af­ter Rugby Africa changed its qual­i­fy­ing process, pre­sent­ing the 15s na­tional team an­other op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for the 2019 World Cup in Ja­pan.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion ob­tained from a Zim­babwe Rugby Union source, Rugby Africa sent in com­mu­ni­ca­tion last week stat­ing that the Sables, who had been rel­e­gated from the elite Africa Cup Di­vi­sion 1A to 1B, would no longer be de­moted. In­stead, Zim­babwe will re­main in the now ex­panded 1A group to­gether with Uganda, Kenya and Namibia. The four coun­tries are joined by Tu­nisia and Sene­gal, who clash in the 1B fi­nal on Novem­ber 16.

Zim­babwe should have been go­ing down to 1B, with the win­ner be­tween Tu­nisia and Sene­gal tak­ing up the Sables’ spot in Di­vi­sion 1A.

“There will be six teams now in 1A, so we stay and the two fi­nal­ists in 1B all qual­ify. We play five games, three away and two at home. The ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil will meet to adopt the new for­mat, which will al­low the win­ner am­ple time to pre­pare for World Cup. The win­ner of Africa Cup 1A in 2017 qual­i­fies for the 2019 World Cup and will have the whole of 2018 to pre­pare for the tour­na­ment,’’ said the source.

In­di­ca­tions are that Zim­babwe, as the bot­tom team in the 2016 Africa Cup Di­vi­sion 1A, will travel to Namibia, Kenya and Uganda then be home against Tu­nisia and Sene­gal.

Rugby Africa last month sent com­mu­ni­ca­tion that Zim­babwe had a chance to re­deem them­selves, as the Africa Cup 1B are to be played in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2017, with the win­ner mov­ing up to 1A. ZRU then sought clar­ity and that is when it was in­formed of the new devel­op­ment.

At the end of last month, ZRU de­cided to re-en­gage Cyprian Man­denge as Sables coach, a month af­ter he had quit the post. ZRU pres­i­dent Nyararai Sibanda re­cently stated that Man­denge’s big­gest ex­pec­ta­tion was to take the Sables back to 1A and win the com­pe­ti­tion next year to qual­ify Zim­babwe for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mean­while the South­ern Re­gion Se­lect beat its North­ern Re­gion coun­ter­part 15-12 at Harts­field Rugby Ground on Satur­day in a hard fought con­test used by Man­denge to look at lo­cally-based play­ers.

Gil­bert Nya­mut­samba, the na­tional sev­ens team coach, was in charge of the South­ern Re­gion, while Daniel Hondo, whom he re­cently re­placed as Chee­tahs men­tor, was re­spon­si­ble for the North­ern side.

Man­denge was scout­ing for play­ers for next month’s Hong Kong Cup of Na­tions where the Sables lost all their fix­tures last year against Hong Kong, Por­tu­gal and Rus­sia.

Some play­ers that have pre­vi­ously fea­tured for the Sables that took part in Satur­day’s se­lec­tion match in­clude Con­stan­tine Dinha, Le­nience Tamb­w­era, Stephan Hun­duza, Lucky Sit­hole, Brian Maka­mure, Irvine Nduwa, Gard­ner Nechi­ronga and Lloyd Machan­jaire. — @ Mdaw­ini_29

Kelvin Kaindu

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