We let the Sables down: ZRU

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has admitted that preparations for the Sables’ Rugby Afrique Gold Cup opening match away to Senegal today were not satisfactory.

The Sables kick off their campaign for qualification campaign for the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup with both coach Cyprian Mandenge and captain Denford Mutamangira expression concerns over their build-up to the game.

Mandenge and his chares got into camp last Sunday and began proper training sessions the following day before their departure for Dakar on Wednesday evening.

At least 26 players Mandenge had wanted to have in the squad refused to turn up as they are not guaranteed to be reimbursed their air tickets by the union.

“A lot more could definitely have happened (in regards to a longer camp and foreign-based player availability), but remember, the squad has effectively been in camp since January albeit at different venues,” ZRU spokesperson Raymond Gonte told the Daily News.

“The preparations are not for particular games but for the whole campaign. Remember, all five matches will be played within seven weeks, which is similar to a tournament.

“Preparations were hindered from being at the maximum given the financial challenges we face. With a healthier bank balance, a lot more can be done better.”

Gonte however, wished the side well and believes they will return from Dakar with a satisfactory result.

“We look forward to the Sables performing, maintaining the Group A status and give us that chance to get to Japan 2019,” he said.

“In the same vein, we look forward to sponsors/partners coming on board to enliven rugby as a whole.”

In an earlier interview, skipper Mutamangira bemoaned the lack of preparations and called on ZRU to take the game seriously if the team is to qualify for Japan.

“To be quite honest we have been there before and it’s actually sad for us to keep on repeating the same mistakes and expect a different result,” the Harare Sports Club prop said.

“We used to be very good, I believe we (are) still good but because of our lack of preparation and our lack of organisation it also changes the mind-set of the guys.

“People used to look forward to playing for Zimbabwe doing whatever they can to make sure that we win every game but if we keep on making the same mistakes and not preparing the team well and not being organised people will get to a point whereby they will say ‘well if they are not taking it seriously why should we?’ I would like to give credit to the guys because despite all these things they always come out and play their hearts out. But we need to prepare.”

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