Kundiona edges closer to Top 14, backed for Rugby World Cup

France-based Sables star Cleopas Cleopas Kundiona in action for SO Chambéry in Bourgoin on November 6. Photo Mona BLANCHET

Sables prop Cleopas Kundiona has been backed to help Zimbabwe qualify for the Rugby World Cup after sealing a big move to French Pro D2 club USON Nevers and edging closer to the Top 14, the world’s richest rugby union championship.

The 22 year-old Zimbabwean rising star made a massive leap in his very promising career by moving to the second tier of France’s professional rugby union system, barely four months after moving to the European country to join third tier side SO Chambéry.

Kundiona’s new club USON Nevers is also home to another Zimbabwe international Farai Mudariki, who has been enjoying an impressive season after being rewarded with a new two year contract in June last year

USON Nevers, who are currently fifth in Pro D2 and still in contention for promotion to the lucrative Top 14, are expected, provide the perfect platform for Kundiona, who is heavily tipped to become a future star in the sport.

Kundiona only arrived in France at the end of September after joining SO Chambéry in the third tier Nationale on an initial short term deal which was set to be extended at the conclusion of the current campaign.

Chambéry, sporting director Johan Colliat backed the Zimbabwean to not only make an impression at his new club but also help the Sables qualify for next year’s World Cup which will be hosted in France.

“The player is a free agent at the end of the season, he only has one year of contract with us, so he can sign up wherever he wants next season. He is a good player, who will certainly play the next World Cup with his country. So that is services have been requested by clubs of the higher echelon is not surprising,” Colliat told the French newspaper Le Dauphine.

Kundiona, who has earned comparisons with Zimbabwe-born Springboks legend Tendai “Beast’ Mtawarira is a key member of the Sables, who are aiming to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

He decided to make the move to France to rebuild his career after being released by the South African giants Sharks, where he struggled to get game time during his two year stint in Durban.

And despite arriving at his new club without having played regular competitive rugby, Kundiona made an immediate impact, which made bigger clubs such as USON Nevers take notice.

The steely tight head suffered a shoulder injury during SO Chambéry’s last match against Cognac before the Christmas break and was not in the matchday squad for the resumption of the championship on Sunday against Dax.

The match was eventually postponed to February due to Covid-19 cases at the Landes club.

Kundiona is expected to link up with his new USON Nevers at the end of the current season.


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