Sables Abort Tunisia Trip to Rugby Africa Cup Group D qualifying tournament
After enduring almost two months of intense training, Zimbabwe’s national fifteens rugby team, the Sables have been forced to cancel their trip to Tunisia for the Rugby Africa Cup Group D qualifying tournament.
This is due to the rapid escalation of Covid-19 cases in the North African country.
The Sables had been scheduled to fly out to Tunis this Saturday ahead of the tournament that had been pencilled for the Tunisian resort city of Monastir from July 9 to 17.
The competition would have marked the beginning of the Sables’ journey to qualify for their first World Cup in three decades by booking a place at the 2023 tournament to be held in France.
The Sables will now have to wait longer after Tunisia was Thursday put under partial lockdown, prompting the cancellation of the three-team tournament that would have featured Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) chief executive Sifiso Made confirmed the development.
“Yes, I can confirm that the Sables will no longer be travelling to Tunisia for the Rugby Africa Cup tournament,” he told NewZimbabwe.com.
“Tunisia has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases and have since written to Rugby Africa informing them that they will no longer be able to host the tournament.
“We stand guided by Rugby Africa on the way forward and remain confident that they are looking at possible avenues for the tournament to go on, preferably at a later date and venue,” Made said.
Tunisia currently has one of Africa’s highest coronavirus infection rates.
As part of the partial lockdown, gatherings such as collective prayers, public celebrations, sporting, and cultural events are prohibited until July 14 in the four regions of Greater Tunis, as well as in the seaside cities of Sousse and Monastir.
Cafes and restaurants will only be allowed to serve takeaway orders, and the 8 pm-to-5 am curfew has been extended.
Despite the cancelation of the Tunisia tournament, the other Rugby Africa Cup matches are expected to go ahead as scheduled this month.
The second round of the Rugby Africa Cup will be played across four pools of three teams each in July in three different venues, namely Kenya, Côte D’ivoire and Uganda, the fourth one remains to be confirmed following the cancelation of the Tunisia tourney.
The top two teams of each pool will progress to the third and final round of the Rugby Africa Cup in 2022.
An eight teams knock-out tournament played with quarterfinals, semi-finals and a grand finale will see the winner qualify directly for Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2023 and the runner-up compete in a global repechage tournament.
Sables Africa Cup Squad
Forwards: Tyron Fagan, Doug Juszczyk, Simba Mandioma, Bornwell Gwinji, David Makamba, Deanne Makoni, Royal Mwale, Cleopas Kundiona, Sean Beevor, Blithe Mavesere, Biselele Tshamala, Godfrey Muzanargwo, Sebastian Roche, Aiden Burnett, Tonderai Chiwambutsa
Backs: Hilton Mudariki, Dudlee White-Sharpley, Keith Chiwara, Matthew McNab, Riaan O’Neill, Brandon Mudzekenyedzi, Shingirai Katsvere, Shayne Makombe, Takudzwa Chieza, Martin Mangongo, Brendon Mandivenga.
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