By Paul Munyuki
ZIMBABWE will be the only side, among the Junior World Rugby Trophy finalists, whose senior XV’s side will not be at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The Under-20 side take part at the Junior World Rugby Trophy set for Georgia in three months time. The Young Sables have been drawn in Group B of the JWRT where they face the challenge of Japan, Canada and hosts Georgia in the three-week tournament.
Group A of the tournament houses the United States, Russia, Samoa and Uruguay whose senior men’s sides qualified for the 2011 World Cup.
The format of the JWRT is such that at the end of the pool games each of the teams in Pool A will play the team that finishes on the same position as them in Pool B.
The fact that the Sables are not at part of the teams that will converge in New Zealand for the World Cup shows the strength of Zimbabwe rugby at junior level but unfortunately the talent in not translating to the senior team.
Under-20 coach Brighton Chivandire is aiming for a top four finish that will ensure the Young Sables get an automatic qualification for the next edition of the JWRT.
The lanky former Sables lock is aware of the task that awaits his army in three months time and currently his players are undergoing fitness training.
“It could not have been any easier because that is a world tournament and such tournaments are really tough and the fact that all the teams in the tournament have their XVs sides taking part in the World Cup, except Zimbabwe, shows the challenge we have,” said Chivandire.
“From the way I see it, it’s going to be tougher than it was last year as we have been put in the same pool with the hosts and that makes it difficult for us as rugby is one of their biggest sports.”
Zimbabwe take on Japan in the opening game before playing hosts Georgia and will round up their Group B games with a date against Canada.
“To us the good thing about this draw is that we are not going to play the hosts in the opening game of the tournament and this gives us an opportunity to see how they play before we take them on.
“We get to know the environment and crowds they are capable of drawing when they are at home since rugby is one of their biggest sports.
“Playing Japan in the opening game after we drew against them last year actually puts pressure on us in the sense that according to last year’s result little separates us.
“They believe that they would have won the game last year and they have their daggers drawn and I felt we had a chance and were good enough (to have won the game) but all of us being there means we are all good teams.”
Last year Japan and Zimbabwe drew 20-20 but the Young Sables then suffered a 6-22 defeat at the hands of Canada.
“I am happy this will be the first time that we are going to play Canada in the second game of the tournament as well because in the past we have opened against them.
“Again we are also going to get a chance to study them before playing them because in the previous occasions we would get to pay without knowing or seeing how they play,” said the former Sables coach.
Sables let down Under-20 side
By Paul Munyuki