'Sables can rock Russia'

HARARE - Shunning any sense of inferiority and bringing their A game to the rugby-mad Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk next Saturday is what Zimbabwe national rugby team coach Brendan Dawson is hoping will catch Russia cold.

The challenge of an 11 hour journey to Moscow is not the only test facing the Sables as they prepare to square off with Russian Bears in the first Repechage play-off for a chance to face the winner of the other play-off pitting Uruguay and Hong Kong.

The of that second play-off will then win a ticket to play at the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Cup in England next year.

The Sables are likely to come face to face with a hostile crowd roaring the Russian Bears next weekend. The IRB rankings too weigh heavily against Dawson’s men.

Zimbabwe is currently ranked 27th world rankings some seven places below Russia.

But too often, as acknowledged by Dawson, rankings can be misleading and the Sables should not read much into those standings heading into this clash.

“We don’t really go by the rankings. We have played three games in a row with this group of players. We have now gained a lot of confidence,” Dawson told the Daily News.

“We are going to give it 100 percent. We have been presented with another great opportunity to qualify for the World Cup and we are going to take the opportunity with open hands.”

The one-off match will be the first ever meeting between Zimbabwe and a Russian side yet to taste victory since Raphael Saint-Andre replaced Kingsley Jones as head coach for the IRB Nations Cup in June.

And Dawson says he has been paying close attention to Bears’ style of play.

“We are very positive that we will do well. I have been looking at the videos of Russia’s games against Portugal, Spain and Belgium,” he said. “They play a similar game to Namibia.”

The Sables departed to Russia at the end of last week via Johannesburg from where they were scheduled to connect to Amsterdam then to Moscow.

The Zimbabwe-based players met the South Africa-based contingent at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, while the Europe-based players were expected to fly directly to Russia.

Dawson’s charges will have four days of camp to acclimatise to the cold Russia weather.


Forwards: Pieter Joubert, Keith Murray, Kevin Nqindi, Jan Ferreira, Graeme Lawler, Jacques Leitao, Lambert Groenewald, Lawrence Cleminson, Sanele Sibanda, Matthew Mandioma, Farai Mudariki, Fortune Chipendo, Kingsley Lang, Takunda Chifokoyo.

Backs: Daniel Hondo (captain), Hilton Mudariki, Guy Cronje, Stephan Hunduza, Riaan O’Neill, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Peter Du Toit, Lenience Tambwera, Shayne Makombe, Danny Robertson.

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