Zimbabwe Under-20 men’s rugby team coach Sean De Souza has backed his squad to do the nation proud when they feature in the 2022 Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy which will be played at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya from April 9 to 17.
De Souza last week named his final 30-man squad which went into camp on Monday ahead of their departure for the continental competition last week on Thursday.
“Ultimately my technical team and I are happy with the selection, these are the guys we believe will represent the country well in at the Rugby Africa Barthes Trophy,” De Souza said.
“With these boys we are not going to add numbers at the event, I believe we will give it all and give good results,” he said.
Despite backing the squad at his disposal, De Souza however lamented the unavailability of some key players due to injuries and academic commitments which has limited his technical team’s selection options.
Some of the absentees include Carl Kawodza, Craig Snyder, Tariro Tapfuma, Brendon Mason, Crispen Mashingaidze, Brooklyn Chikaka, Rua Karimazondo and Stephen Terera, who have not been able to join camp due to university commitments.
The quintet of Rukudzo Rukwata-Ndoro, Martin Hakunavanhu Jnr, Nqobile Manyara, Happias Zhou and Emmanuel Farawa have been ruled out after picking up injuries during the Under-20 High Performance squad’s participation in the Nedbank Rugby Challenge Cup.
“The Under-20 High performance matches during the Nedbank Challenge Cup helped us see players in different combinations and that gave the technical team a valuable view of all the players in comfort zone with the easier oppression and under pressure from the bigger clubs which was perfect for us, sad we lost a few players though injury,” De Souza said.
“We were also unfortunate that we could not have Carlos Matematema one of our key players as he is with the Cheetahs who are also preparing for Africa Cup. Also there are other one or two players who could not make it into the squad because of their educational demands like exams and stuff.”
The Barthes tournament will see eight teams namely – Madagascar, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Namibia, Zambia, Ivory Coast and host Kenya competing for the sole ticket to represent the continent at the 2023 World Rugby Under-20 Trophy.
— Kenya Rugby (@OfficialKRU) April 4, 2022
The competition will begin in a knockout format from the quarterfinal stage.
A total of four matches are lined up on Saturday, with Zimbabwe taking on Tunisia in the second match of the day after the first game pitting Namibia and Ivory Coast.
Madagascar and Zambia will battle it out in the third quarterfinal before the final game of the day where hosts Kenya take on Uganda.
The winners from this stage will progress to the semi-finals while the losers will drop to the classification matches. The semi-finals will be played four days later on Wednesday and the final on Easter Sunday after which the teams will be ranked.
At the end of the tournament, the teams ranked seventh and eighth will play in a repechage competition comprising four nations, themselves and two challengers from the rest of Africa, for two slots at the next Barthes Trophy in 2023.
Kenya are the current defending champions, having won back-to-back tournaments in 2020 and 2021 (the 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), and thus are the top-seeded nation in the tournament while Uganda enter as the bottom seed.
Zimbabwe Under-20 Squad
Tomuvonga Msasanure, Panashe Zuze, Farai Madzima, Shadrick Mandaza, Veshal Jasi, Tadiwa Chinwada, Takudzwa Musingwini (captain), Brendan Marume, Bryan Chaing, Marlon Guwuriro, Takunda Mudzingwa, Alex Nyamunda, Dion Khumalo, Tanaka Chinyanga, Simbarashe Siraha, Tanaka GondoMukandapi, Tamuka Kambani, Liberty Sibanda, Solomon Zawe, Josiah Borerwe, Tanaka Ndoro, Tanaka Ndabambi, Muzuva Gutu, Tavonga Ablant, Denzel Maramba, Tawanda Matipano, Tendai Chimyama, Simbarashe Kanyangarara, Andy Naringo, Munotida Marimirofa