Mnangagwa pledges support for Junior Sables ahead of Barthes Trophy defence

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa hosted a send-off reception for the Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team ahead of their departure for Kenya on Thursday, where they will seek to successfully defend their African Under-20 Rugby Championship title.

The Junior Sables made the country proud last year when they lifted the continental Under-20 title, also known as the Barthes Trophy, after beating rivals Namibia in the tournament’s final played in Kenya.

The Shaun De Souza-coached side went on to participate to finish second in the World Rugby organised Canada International Rugby Series which featured the hosts Canada, Chile and Uruguay.

Next week, the Junior Sables will seek to retain their title and qualify for the Junior World Trophy which will be played later this year.

Ahead of the team’s departure for Kenya on Thursday, Mnangagwa took time to congratulate the team for their success last year while encouraging them to do well in the upcoming tournament.

“I would like to congratulate you for your success this initiative and achievement plays a pivotal role as we continue our journey to re-position and refocus our delivery system which is a critical part towards an excelling sporting nation,” Mnangagwa said during the function.

“I am reliably informed that the Junior Sables are the only number one ranked U20 team in Zimbabwe and are about to leave for Kenya for the 2023 Barthes Afrique Trophy, which is also a world qualifier tournament.

“Your strife and drive as a team is in line with the achievements of the set sectorial target of improved performance as spelt out in the National Development Strategy 1 for Youth, Sport and Culture.”

He went further to pledge financial support to the team and the sport sector in general.

“As you embark on your journey to qualify for the World Cup, I would like to urge you to remain focused and shun away from drug and substance abuse. As Youth in Sport I urge you to enhance and embrace the mantra of “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo , ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo”.

“I would like to once again reiterate and appreciate the role that the sport sector is playing in image building. Your interaction as the Under 20 rugby team with the outside world automatically makes you brand ambassadors of Zimbabwe; we will support you financially and avail more funding for the sport sector.”

Zimbabwe Rugby Union president Aaron Jani said: “The team has diverse players from all over the country were represented, they surprised us with their level of commitment and determination to make their country proud.

“The U20 team had 5 players called up into the National Sales Team and 1 into the Sevens Cheetahs team. Our ambition and drive as a team is aligned towards the achievements of the set sectorial targets of improved performance and nation-building as set out in the National Development Strategy of Youth, Sport and Culture. Our aim is to leave no one behind, to increase participation and inclusivity within the game, as we strive towards vision 2030.”

Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Under-20 team’s technical department have confirmed their final 28-man squad to the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy in Nairobi between 22nd and 30th April 2023.

Live wire scrumhalf Panashe Zuze captains the team that will be out to make a successful title defence in Nairobi.

The squad has six returning players from last year’s successful team namely Bryan Chiang, Tanaka Gondomukandapi, Zuze, Brendan Marume, Alex Nyamunda and Dion Khumalo.

Zimbabwe Squad: Happias Zhou, Gerry Zisengwe, Stanley Muranganwa, Vincent Chimwendo, Muzuva Gutu, Haiger Muchenje, Tadiwa Chinwada, Gealan Jaricha, Tanaka Gondomukandapi, Huntley Masterson, Tawananyasha Bwanya, Nqobile Manyara, Bryan Chiang, Allan Mawunga, Leo Mutendi, Tanaka Ndoro, Panashe Zuze, Brendan Marume, Dion Khumalo, Brendan Jameson, Shadrick Mandaza, Benoni Nhekairo, Tanaka Chinyanga, Panashe Mugorogodi, Simbarashe Kanyangarara, Alex Nyamunda, Edward Sigauke, Taonaishe Mapani

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