Sables safe for now

HARARE – With only one win from four matches, the Zimbabwe national 15s rugby team will most likely retain their Rugby Afrique Gold Cup status for next season.

The Sables left for Kampala last night for Saturday’s final round robin match against Uganda to be held at the Kyadondo Rugby Club.

Cyprian Mandenge’s side’s currently sit in fourth place on the six-team log table with only six points after defeats to Tunisia, Kenya and Namibia.

The Sables were disappointing in the 23-31 home loss to Tunisia at Prince Edward School last Saturday.

Zimbabwe’s only win in the competition came in the opening match when they defeated Senegal 16-28 in Dakar in June.

Namibia retained their Gold Cup title with a lopsided 45-7 win over Kenya in Windhoek last weekend and now have an unassailable 24 points from five matches.

Kenya are in second place with 16 points followed by Uganda in third with 11 points from four matches while Tunisia and Senegal complete the log standings with four and a single point respectively.

The bottom team on the log will be relegated from the division to play in the second tier Silver Cup in 2018 thereby missing out on the final qualifying phase of the Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan.

While the Sables will be taking on the Cranes in Kampala, Tunisia will host bottom side Senegal in Monastir on the same day.

Even if the Sables go down to Uganda, they are likely to remain in the Gold Cup in the event that Tunisia beat Senegal.

In that scenario, Tunisia will move into fourth place while the Sables will finish the competition in fifth place.

A Senegal win in Monastir will also see Zimbabwe maintain their Gold Cup status as Tunisia will be relegated to the Silver Cup.

Although the permutations points to Zimbabwe remaining in the top tier and still with a chance of qualifying for Japan 2019, Mandenge is disappointed with the criticism his team is receiving following another disappointing Gold Cup campaign.

“It comes across as a major worry for the team when we have some respectable people in rugby circles talking like fans,” Mandenge told the Daily News.

“After the last World Cup qualifiers, everybody ran away because they thought that was going to be the end of rugby in the country.

“People were told to apply for the coaching job but they didn’t because they had no faith in the team.

“We put in a lot of work and now that they have seen the potential in this team, they are now going behind the scenes to claim the glory.”

Meanwhile, flyhalf Lenience Tambwera returned to the Sables squad for Saturday’s match after missing the clash against Tunisia owning to an hamstring injury.

Other players called up for the trip to Kampala include hooker Matthew Mandioma, lock Witness Mandizha and utility back Riaan O’Neil.

Sables squad: Denford Mutamangira, Lawrence Cleminson, Irvine Nduwa, Royal Mwale, Matthew Mandioma, Tolerance Zishe,  Witness Mandizha, Kingsley Lang, Fortune Chipendu, Jacques Leitao, Njabulo Ndlovu, Biselele Tshamala, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Hilton Mudariki, Tichafara Makwanya, Riaan O’neil, Gavin Nyawata, Ngoni Chibuwe, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Stephan Hunduza, Lenience Tambwera, Scott Jones, Teddy Dzandiwandira.

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