Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Sables coach Peter de Villiers has named his final squad of 23 for Saturday’s Rugby Africa Gold Cup clash against Namibia at Hartsfield Rugby Ground.
The Sables have been having their training sessions at Petra College with 26 players in camp. De Villiers on Friday announced the team to face Namibia in Zimbabwe’s fourth match of this year’s Gold Cup.
Skipper Denford Mutamangira will scrum down at loose head, David Makanda at hooker and Farai Mudariki at tight head to complete the front row. Brian Nyaude and Fortunate Chipendu make up the back row, with Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Connor Pritchard and Tapfuma Parirenyatwa forming the loose trio.
Vice captain, Hilton Mudariki is back in the team and will have the responsibility to retrieve the ball in the breakdown as well as throw it into the scrum at scrumhalf. With Lenience Tambwera arriving late for camp and starting off on the bench, Brandon Mandivenga starts at flyhalf. Sevens rugby stalwart Tafadzwa Chitokwindo and another Cheetahs star Shayne Makombe are on the wings. Veteran Tafadzwa Mhende starts at inside centre, where he has Kudzai Mashawi on his outside while Shingirai Katsvere is the last man in defence at fullback.
The Sables might be out of contention for a place at next year’s Rugby World Cup but their last two Rugby Africa Gold Cup matches are crucial for their survival in the elite group.
Zimbabwe only have three points after a 23 all draw with Morocco and find themselves in danger of being demoted from the elite Rugby Africa Gold Cup should they fail to beat Namibia on Saturday and Uganda in their last match away on 18 August.
The Sables are coming from two consecutive defeats, the first a 45-36 loss to Kenya before they went down 18-14 to Tunisia.
Namibia last played in Zimbabwe in June 2002 in a 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifier at Hartsfield, a match the Namibians won 42-30. Zimbabwe have only beaten Namibia three times in 31 matches. Zimbabwe’s last win over Namibia came in July 2001 when the Sables beat the Welwitschias 27-26 in an African Championship encounter at Hartsfield.
Before the Sables square off against Namibia, the fans will be treated to some entertaining schoolboy rugby action when the Milton Elephants and Prince Edward Tigers clash in the main curtain raiser.
Zimbabwe Sables squad against Namibia: Denford Mutamangira(captain), David Makanda, Farai Mudariki, Brian Nyaude, Fortunate Chipendu, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Connor Pritchard, Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, Hilton Mudariki(vice captain), Brandon Mandivenga, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Tafadzwa Mhende, Kudzai Mashawi, Shayne Makombe, Shingirai Katsvere, Matthew Mandioma, Irvine Nduwa, Lawrence Cleminson, Antipas Kamkwindo, Lucky Sithole, Ernest Mudzengerere, Lenience Tambwera, Matthew McNab