Funds will be key: Mandenge

HARARE - Zimbabwe senior men’s XVs rugby coach Cyprian Mandenge said resources will be important in his side’s quest to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Sables were handed a lifeline after Rugby Afrique changed the format of the qualifying campaign for the tournament.

Zimbabwe was not relegated from the Africa Cup Group 1A following a disastrous 2016 campaign after Rugby Afrique resolved that from next year six teams will play in the top tier.

However, no team was relegated at the end of the 2016 competition with only Tunisia and Senegal being promoted to Group 1A.

Whoever is going to win the Africa Cup Group 1A competition in 2018 will join the Springboks as the continent’s two representatives in Japan the following year.      

“I would not call it a lifeline because qualifiers are there in 2018. All we needed to do was win Group 1B next year and come back to Group 1A. So either way we have a lot of work to do because we need to stay in this group and make sure we win it in 2018,” Mandenge told the Daily News.

“Resources will always be a challenge and the mother body should have a clear pathway and channel resources there.

“All we have is talent and players who are prepared to put their bodies on the line for the country but that alone is not enough because we need the guys to go through proper strength and conditioning, diet and above all getting together more and training as a squad, have friendly games and proper camp not just to meet a few days before a game -— all these things need money.”

The cash-strapped Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has struggled to finance the various national teams with well-wishers often coming to the rescue.

Last month, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Walter Magaya chipped in to provide fuel and allowances for the Sables shortly before they left for the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Hong Kong.

At the weekend, the team was forced to cancel a training camp scheduled for Bulawayo as the ZRU failed to secure funds for the programme.

“The build up to that (2018 qualifiers) started when we went to Hong Kong but now we have slowed down because of resources and I am very worried. We have to pay for a training field and things are not going according to plan,” Mandenge said.

“I’m frustrated because we have to learn from the past. We lost games this year purely because of lack of game time and to look at combinations and poor preparations. I want my boys to be happy and just focus on playing and I also want to focus on preparing the squad and not worry about any other stuff.”

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