THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) yesterday released a 30-member national senior rugby training squad which is expected to go into camp next week ahead of their opening match in the expanded Rugby Africa Gold Cup against Senegal in Dakar on June 24.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO/KENNEDY NYAVAYA
As has become the norm, several foreign-based players are unavailable for selection for the crucial encounter, forcing the technical department to include only seven players playing their trade beyond the country’s borders.
Australia-based former Under-20 skipper Connor Pritchard, who plays for Colleges Knights Rugby Club in Queensland, is one of the only two overseas-based players in the squad together with Germany-based lock Brian Nyaude.
Scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki, who will today make his debut for the Johannesburg-based Stor-Age Pirates Rugby Club against their archrivals Wanders, headlines the contingent from South Africa which includes prop Lawrence Cleminson, lock Witness Mandizha, flank Biselele Tshamala and centre Ngoni Chibuwe.
Some of the notable absentees include France-based prop Farai Mudariki, who is enjoying a good season at Castres Espoirs, the Youth Academy team for the four-time French champions Castres Olympique Rugby, and Germany-based winger Tafadzwa Chitokwindo.
The others who have also ignored the call for national duty include flank Njabulo Ncube, lock Jan Ferreira, centre Riaan O’Neill, scrumhalf Kuziva Kazembe, number eight Norman Mukondiwa and front rower Kevin Nqindi, who are all plying their trade for several clubs in the Western Cape.
Instead Sables head coach Cyprian Mandenge will have to make do with a squad made up of mostly local-based players who have been active in the Intercity League competition.
The Sables warmed up for the match against Senegal by beating minnows Zambia 64-3 in a friendly encounter which was marred by poor organisation by ZRU.
The opening match against Senegal is expected to kick off a busy schedule for the Sables, who are also scheduled to take on Namibia in Windhoek on July 15.
Zimbabwe will play their first home match in the competition against Kenya at Hartsfield in Bulawayo on July 22 before hosting Tunisia in Harare a week later.
Mandenge’s charges conclude their campaign with an away tie against Uganda in Kampala on August 5.
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition doubles as the first phase of the qualifiers for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan.
Forwards: Denford Mutamangira, Lawrence Cleminson, Irvine Nduwa, Brian Makamure, Tolerance Zishe, Graham Cochran, Takudzwa Bvunzawabaya, Brian Nyaude, Witness Mandizha, Fortune Chipendo, George Saungweme, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Connor Pritchard, Biselele Tshamala, Lucky Sithole, Osborne Muhambi
Backs: Hilton Mudariki, Scotty Jones, Joshua Gando, Tichafara Makwanya, Lenience Tambwera, Gideon Muyambo, Tarisai Mugairi, Dan Capsopoulos, Boyd Rouse, Ngoni Chibuwe, Stephan Hunduza, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Tadius Hwata, Tinashe Gwisai