The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Sables coach, Brendan Dawson is excited ahead of the Test match against Netherlands at the Rugby Stadion in Amsterdam on Saturday, which serves as the final preparations for next month’s Rugby Africa Cup in France.
The Sables face the Oranges in what should be an exciting match, with prospects for the Zimbabweans to rise in the World Rugby rankings. Zimbabwe are 34th in the world while their opponents are the 26th best team globally, which means Zimbabwe will rise should they conquer on Saturday, in what would be a huge morale booster ahead of the Rugby Africa Cup.
“We are really excited about the Netherlands Test match, it’s important to us going into our World Cup qualifiers that we do well against Netherlands and that we can make sure that we can see the process that we’ve built all along the Netherlands game, develops and come right within the Netherlands game,’’ said Dawson.
The Sables coach is eager to see the gains made by his team which spent two months in South Africa competing in that country’s Currie Cup First Division. Dawson has most of the players in his final squad in camp, with the backline duo of Martin Mangongo and Tapiwa Mafura the only ones outstanding. Mafura is playing for the Airlink Pumas in the Carling Currie Cup final against the Griquas in Kimberly on Saturday.
“It will be great preparation for us to see and make sure that everything we’ve been practicing in the last 12 weeks in the Currie Cup has come to fruition. The majority, 99% of the players are all in camp, we just waiting for two more to join, Mafura, they are in the Currie Cup final, he will join us next week, he will miss the Netherlands game and then he will join us in the up and coming week in preparation for Ivory Coast,’’ Dawson said.
For the Sables coach, the doors of opportunities that can be opened by the match against Netherlands.
“It’s immense, first time we been on a European tour for many years, to play the Netherlands, that’s also exciting and positive on our side with regards to the friendships that we can build for the future, it’s really exciting,’’ he said.
At the Rugby Africa Cup, Zimbabwe face Ivory Coast at the Stade Delort, Marseille on 1 July. Should the Sables overcome the West Africans, their next opponents in the semis scheduled for 6 July are most likely to be Namibia should the Namibians take care of Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals.
Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence is the venue for the Rugby Africa Cup final whose winner will seal automatic qualification to next year’s Rugby World Cup in France. The loser of the final will have to make do with a place in the final qualification tournament to make one final attempt to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023.
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