The Herald (Harare)

28 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Sables to Play More Games

THE Sables are this year expected to play double the number of international games they played last year - if the funds come right.

With the Zimbabwe Rugby Union set to host a four-nations tournament and two other Test games the

Sables are in for a busy season where they are scheduled to take part in both friendly and competitive games including the Africa Cup.

The tournament is scheduled for Harare from July 6 to 13 where Kenya and Uganda - the same sides Zimbabwe play in the Victoria Cup tournament - while the fourth team is yet to be confirmed.

Two more home tests possibly against Russia or Georgia are being lined up for October and November.

The ZRU has been struggling to raise funds to make sure the Sables remain afloat and last month the Sables committee turned down an offer by Namibia for a friendly in Windhoek, citing lack of funds.

Having last taken part at the Dubai Emirates invitational tournament last December in the United Arab Emirates, the Sables will return to action at the end of May with a home game against Namibia at Harare Sports Club.

This is expected to be a huge relief for the Sables technical team that is led by coach Brandon Dawson his assistant Cyprian "Supa" Mandenge and team manager Losson Mtongwiza is the manager.

The coaching duo has been crying for their side to get more game time and if all goes well, the side will have at least 15 games of which seven will come before the Africa Cup tournament in Madagascar at the end of July.

Last year the Sables played seven games in total including one against the Falcons from South Africa, two each at the Africa Cup and in Namibia before playing three games in Dubai against Hong Kong, Belgium and United Arab Emirates.

However, their first assignment of the year will be against Namibia in Harare on May 25 and this is going to be their biggest home friendly game in a decade - the same weekend that the Sevens side the Cheetahs are expected to take part in the Castle Sevens in Lusaka Zambia.

The last meeting between Zimbabwe and Namibia was in an international invitational tournament in Windhoek last November and they failed to get the better of the African giants following a close 33-37 reverse that also ended the Sables' seven game unbeaten run.

Having won seven consecutive games both in the Africa Cup and the Victoria Cup with victories against the likes of Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar, Namibia proved no easy pushovers but this time Zimbabwe could bank on home advantage.

Their next games will be in South Africa where they will spend a week-long training camp that will be spcied up by three friendly matches against provincial sides as part of preparations for the the Africa Cup.

The first friendly game is against provincial side Limpopo Blue Bulls on June 1 in Polokwane before they travel to Mpumalanga Province for a date against the Pumas at Witbank four days later.

The Sables will end their tour of South Africa with a trip to Gauteng Province where they are expected t take on Valke on June 8 and this will be the second time they play the same side in a year.

Zimbabwe hosted the South Africans in their season opener last winter at Harare Sports Club but again, they were not strong enough to get the better of the South Africans.

Then the Sables will take a month long break before returning to action with the four-nations tournament that will be dominated by the teams that used to take part in the tri-nations Victoria Cup tournament.

Last year the Victoria Cup failed to take place after Zimbabwe and Uganda indicated that they were broke and did not have the financial capacity to participate in the two legged fixtures.

And it seems this year the Victoria Cup has been replaced by this invitational tournament which will effectively be the Sables last preparatory tournament before the Africa Cup challenge.

In the Africa Cup competition, Zimbabwe are in the World Cup qualifying group also known as Group 1A and will take on Madagascar in their opening game.

Sables 2013 Fixtures

Vs Namibia (Harare May 25); vs Limpopo Blue Bulls (Polokwane June 1); vs Mpumalanga (Witbank June5); vs Valke (Gauteng June 8).

July 6-13: Four Nations invitationsl (Harare Sports Club).

July 22-18: CAR Africa Cup (Madagascar).

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