Junior Sables depleted by visa delays ahead of Canada test   

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The Junior Sables players pose for a team photo before their Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy tie against Tunisia in Nairobi in April

The Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team’s final preparations for the World Rugby U20s Canada Conference 2022 have been dealt a major blow with six players yet to arrive in Canada ahead of the match against the hosts on Saturday due to visa issues.

The Junior Sables will take on the hosts Canada at the University of Guelph in Ontario on Saturday in the opening match of the key high-performance competition.

Zimbabwe’s fledgling rugby stars are also scheduled to face Uruguay and Chile on August 18 and 23 respectively in the high-profile tournament which is being used to prepare for next year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy.

Head coach Shaun De Souza will however not be able to count on some of his key players such as Brendan Marume, Simbarashe Siraha, Liberty Sibanda, Tawanda Banda, and Nqobile Manyara at least for the opening match.

The quintet are yet to leave for Canada after only getting their Canadian visas late on Wednesday before failing to secure a flight on Thursday while Tomuvonga Msasanure is yet to get a visa to enable him to travel for the competition.

Junior Sables head coach Shaun De Souza told Zim Sport Live that the six players were now out for the game against Canada.

“Our game against Canada will go ahead without the six players. Their visas came out yesterday afternoon will try to get onto the next available flight to Toronto. Unfortunately, they were not able to get on the flight today as the flight was fully booked,” said De Souza.

“It is a blow but will have to work with what we have then we regroup for game two. At the moment we have 25 players who have settled well and are ready for the first encounter. The team is calling on the Zimbabwean community in Canada to come out in numbers and support the Junior Sables at Guelph University.”

Junior Sables head coach Shaun De Souza

The former Sables star said he is grateful to Rugby Africa and World Rugby for giving his side an opportunity to compete against quality opposition while he also paid tribute to the various sponsors who have backed the team.

“This still seems like a dream, we are so grateful to World Rugby and Rugby Africa for giving Zimbabwe U20 this opportunity to gauge where we are regarding the standard of rugby as we aspire to qualify for the Junior World Trophy in 2023 through the Barthes Trophy route in April,” he said.

“Nedbank’s sponsorship and the support from the traditional U20 sponsors’ Seed Co, Protyre Zimbabwe, FX Logistics, First Link Insurance, Consha Holdings, Moors World of Sport and Matipano & Matimba Associates have helped the Junior Sables’ journey.”

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