The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Sables captain, Hilton Mudariki has been ruled out of the team’s final Rugby Africa pool D fixture against Burkina Faso at Old Georgians Sports Club in Harare on Thursday because of injury.
Mudariki, who plays scrumhalf will not be involved in the second match up with the Stallions after he hurt his groin and hip in the first encounter between the two teams played on Sunday. In Mudariki’s absence, fullback Brendon Mandivenga will captain the Sables.
Other players ruled out of Thursday’s match are hooker Matthew Mandioma, flank Blithe Mavesere and fullback Martin Mangongo.
Zimbabwe defeated Burkina Faso 101-3 on Sunday and with a points difference of 98, the match on Thursday is now a mere formality with the Sables guaranteed of finishing on top of pool D and the Stallions second.
Waiting for Zimbabwe in the quarterfinals are Ivory Coast who pulled a shocker in pool A when they defeated Namibia. Burkina Faso will play Namibia in the last eight. Should Zimbabwe and Namibia win their quarterfinal fixtures, the two teams will meet in the semifinals of next year’s Rugby Africa Cup, which is the qualification pathway for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Winners of next year’s Rugby Africa Cup will automatically qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and slot into Pool A with the hosts, three-time champions New Zealand and the team that wins Americas’ qualifiers.
Runners-up in the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup also have an opportunity of heading to France via the final qualification tournament to be played in November next year.