A Tale of Two Teams

HARARE - The Zimbabwe rugby team’s preparations for the defence of their African rugby title have been inflicted a heavy blow after financial woes forced the postponement of their South Africa tour next week.
In contrast, Kenya, one of the Sables’ main rivals on the continent and a serious threat at this year’s edition of the Africa Cup, arrived in South Africa on Sunday for a 10-day training camp with the Western Province franchise in Cape Town.
Brendan Dawson’s men were scheduled to play two “first-class” matches against Valke in Johannesburg on June 12 before completing the whistle-stop tour against Pumas three days later in Nelspruit.
The two tough ties against the provincial outfits would have provided the Sables with a good measure of their readiness for July’s Africa Cup Group 1A championship in Madagascar, where Zimbabwe will be out to retain the title they won in Tunisia last year and stay in contention for a 2015 World Cup berth.   
Zimbabwean rugby has been crying out for the strengthening of ties with South Africa in order to expose the locals to constant quality opposition, and a great deal of excitement had been generated in the  Sables camp ahead of the tour.
Valke and Pumas play in the Currie Cup First Division, the second-tier league of South Africa's premier domestic rugby competition.
Sables manager Losson Mtongwiza broke the news of the tour postponement yesterday.
“I regret to inform you that we have been forced to postpone the Tour to South Africa as the sponsors have not given us the money for it yet. The tour will now be after the Currie Cup and the Africa Cup at a date yet to be set,” said Mtongwiza in a statement.
“As such we will revert to practising every Wednesday at OH at 6pm until 27 June when we go into camp. The guys playing and practising 7's at OGs will be excused but we will continue to monitor who will be attending there too.
“Once the 7's team leaves on 22 June (for the Sevens World Cup in Russia) we will expect all those who do not make the touring squad to show up for practise at OH without fail.”
While the Sables are struggling for game time, Kenya have stepped up their preparations. 
Earlier this year, Western Province has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Kenya to help develop Kenyan rugby.
Under the understanding, the Kenyan Fifteens team will get advise on various aspects of the game especially on training.
"We are going to send the team to Western Province where they will work on their strength and conditioning," Kenya Rugby Football Union secretary Frank Sabwa said in March.
Western Province chief talent spotter Jerome Paarwater, who is attached to the Kenyan Rugby Union, goes to Nairobi once a month and spend time with the 15s team for a week.
Just Zimbabwe, Kenya are also aiming to qualify for the 2015 World Cup, but their preparations, foresightedness and professional approach is far ahead of Zimbabwe. 
Meanwhile, Sables selectors named an enlarged core squad of 52 for the 2013 season following trials held at Old Hararians last weekend.
“Due to various injuries and having a few players outside the country we have had to choose a 52-man squad,” added Mtongwiza.

 

 

 

 

 

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