Zimbabwe is targeting to host at least two Currie Cup First Division matches this year in an effort to give local rugby fans a taste of some top-level rugby action after missing out on qualification for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Playing under the Goshawks banner, the Zimbabwe rugby side made their debut in South Africa’s second-tier domestic competition last year, finishing ninth out of the 10 participating teams after winning three of their nine matches.
Zimbabwe, who were using the Currie Cup as part of their preparations for the Rugby World Cup, played all their matches in South Africa, where they used Cape Town as their home base for the duration of the competition.
After a largely satisfactory maiden appearance in the Currie Cup last season, Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president Aaron Jani said his administration is now targeting to host some of their matches on home soil and consultations were already underway.
“The major tournament that we are looking at for 2023 for the Sables is going to be the Currie Cup. Right now we are waiting for the official fixtures list to see where we are going to be playing and who we are going to be playing against. Of major concern is to try and make sure that we play at least a minimum of two games here at home so that we can give our fans something to cheer on,” Jani said in an interview.
Despite the Sables’ failure to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup since 1991, Jani’s administration is pulling all the stops to ensure some continuity for the national rugby team.
In addition to the Currie Cup, the former Sables player revealed that the Zimbabwe side would also feature in the Victoria Cup which was last played in 2019 with Zimbabwe emerging victorious after beating Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.
There is also a possibility of an all-star team from this year’s Victoria Cup playing a high profile match against South Africa’s Emerging Springboks later in the year.
“The other tournament that we are still in discussions on is obviously the Victoria Cup and our aim is to make sure we make it as competitive as possible. There is a suggestion that we are considering which is to ensure that from that tournament we pick a South-Eastern African side that we can use to play some games in South Africa, maybe targeting the Emerging Springboks, depending on the strength of the team,” Jani said.
The ZRU boss revealed that the Sables technical team headed by Brendan Dawson is now checking on the availability of players while the local rugby governing body would soon be engaging their sponsors after receiving the official fixture list for the year.
“It is a very exciting year that is coming through and obviously depends on player availability, so at the moment we are now talking to players and seeing who is available for these tournaments. We are also looking at issue funding. We are talking to our partners and once we have the official fixtures list we will be sending it to our partners to see how we can operationalize 2023,” he said.