Will the Sables prevail in Madagascar?

HARARE - After a depleted Zimbabwe national rugby team relinquished its African title with a hard-fought final 29-17 loss to Kenya at the African Championships in July last year, many remedial theories emerged.

Losing to Kenya in the final was a cause of great disappointment as Zimbabwe travelled to Madagascar minus several key members following a player revolt which had seen players being sacked by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) before the trip.

Fortunately, Zimbabwe’s 38-18 win over hosts Madagascar in the semi-final made sure the Sables stayed in the elite Group 1A and were guaranteed a place at this month’s crucial competition, which will serve as final qualifier for the 2015 World Cup.

One of many underlining sentiments echoed throughout that disharmony was a need for Zimbabwe to start preparations straight away for the World Cup qualifiers and not wait for the last minute.

Outside flank Andrew Rose, who had just earned his first cap at the championships in Madagascar, perhaps said it best during an interview with the Daily News saying he had no doubt of the Sables ability to qualify for the World Cup to be staged in England next year.

However, only if preparations “start now, not three weeks before the chance to qualify for the World Cup.”

Fast forward to eleven months later and very few has changed to ensure the Sables are well prepared to meet the challenge in Madagascar where Kenya, Namibia and the hosts lie in wait.

Instead, the Sables have had to lurch from one crisis to another as a result of limited resources in the ZRU coffers.

Sables coach Brendon Dawson has had to contend with a 10-day training camp with his players whilst their opponents, Kenya and Namibia, strut it out with formidable opponents in warm-up matches.

However, Dawson has been preaching a mantra of self-belief since the Sables went into camp at the start of last week.

“It’s a big problem but we can’t do anything about it,” Dawson said of the sables limited preparations.

“We do not have the money. We just have to play the best we can and prepare the best we can.  The commercial sector has not come on board so we have to do the best that we can we have.

“We will play amongst ourselves. We are going to play a Possibles versus Probables match. We have to change our training program. There is nothing absolutely nothing, that we can do about it.”

Dawson added: “Yes they have had better preparation but they may also have injuries that might help us. But look we have to start reporting positively about our chances.”

Zimbabwe will bank on mobility, relying mostly on a very mobile pack who are strong in the driving lineouts and strong in the breakdown.

In the outfield, they will look to good decision makers that play on the gain line, putting their forwards on the front foot.

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