The Herald (Harare)

13 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Sables in High Spirits

ZIMBABWE XVs national rugby side are in high spirits after overcoming hosts Madagascar and are looking forward to defend their title as the Africa champions when they take on Kenya tomorrow afternoon.

It was the 38-18 win over hosts Madagascar in Antananarivo on Wednesday afternoon that gave the youthful side self-belief and now Kenya are the only obstacle standing between them and the title.

"We showed by this game that we are the best, and we'll show it again next Sunday during the final," Kenyan player, Cyprian Kuto, told Xinhua news agency.

For the Sables, the Kenyans provide the hurdle they must get past, having achieved their goal to remain in contention for the London 2015 World Cup tournament, and if Zimbabwe win tomorrow's game they will face Namibia in the opening World Cup qualifier next year.

A defeat would mean that Kenya will play Namibia in the opening World Cup qualifier next year and Zimbabwe will take on the winner in tomorrow's encounter between Uganda and Madagascar in the other qualifier.

Whatever the outcome, the Sables are at the moment not worried about who they are going to play next as they are focussing on powering to another victory against Kenya, a team they beat in the semi-final last year.

Zimbabwe have won nine of the 13 games played between the two sides and for 20 years, between 1981 and 2001, the Kenyan's had never beaten the Sables.

The Kenyans win against Zimbabwe only came in 2002 with a close 19-12 victory in East Africa.

And, in the five games played between 2002 and 2010, Zimbabwe only won once with a 24-15 victory at home in 2004, before they regained dominance in the last two years.

But tomorrow is a completely different day for both sides.

Kenya would like to turn the tables and are buoyed by a 52-11 win over Uganda that came on Wednesday and they have most of their experienced players with the side.

They have most of their players who play for the Sevens side, which turned professional recently and are part of the Sevens World Series core members, while Zimbabwe only have a youthful bunch of players, and a few players that have top level international experience.

But for Andrew Rose, who captained the Zimbabwe 2007 Junior World Cup side in Ireland before playing for the Scotland Under-20 side and returning home this year to try out with the Sables, all this does not matter.

"We are not worried about the debutantes in our side because we are here to win. I would not be here if we didn't want to win," said Rose.

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