After recently failing to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup, Zimbabwe are now looking to the future after selecting a youthful side made up largely of Under-20 players for the Victoria Cup opener with Uganda in Kampala on Saturday.
The Sables missed out on qualification to the World Cup after finishing a disappointing fourth in the 2022 Africa Cup in France a fortnight ago.
In an effort to build a strong squad capable of qualifying for the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union appear to have started their rebuilding process early by announcing a young side for the Victoria Cup competition which will also feature Kenya.
The side is dominated by players who were part of Zimbabwe’s Under-20 side which was crowned African champions in April following an upset 19-14 win over Namibia in the final of the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy in Kenya.
Flyhalf Takudzwa Musingwini, who captained the Young Sables to victory in Kenya in April, leads the side in Kampala.
The exciting trio of fullback Brendon Marume and wingers Tawanda Matipano and Tavonga Ablant are also part of the squad after missing the Sables’ Rugby Africa campaign due to injuries.
The youthful side which will play as the Goshawks is being coached by Zimbabwe Under-20 coach Shaun De Souza, who guided the Young Sables to glory in Nairobi.
The Zimbabwean team will arrive in Uganda just before midnight Friday, hours before the match.
After the Victoria Cup match, most players in the young side will turn their attention to the World Rugby-sanctioned U20 International Series to be played in Canada, where they will play against the hosts, Uruguay and Chile from August 14 to 24 in Ontario.
Starting line-up: 1. Farai Madzima 2. Tawanda Banda 3. Nqobile Manyara 4. Simbarashe Siraha 5. Tanaka Gondo-Mukandapi 6. Tanaka Ndoro 7. Tendai Chinyama 8. Tamuka Kambani 9. Panashe Zuze 10. Ben Pattenden 11. Liberty Sibanda 12. Alex Nyamuda 13. Carl Kawodza 14. Tavonga Ablant 15. Takudzwa Musingwini (captain).
Subs: 16. Takunda Mudzingwa 17. Marlon Guwuriro 18. Martin Hakunavanhu 19. Andrew Rinomhota 20. Denzel Maramba 21. Tanaka Ndabambi 22. Brendon Marume 23. Tawanda Matipano.