Sables In Russia For Do-Or-Die World Cup Qualification Tie
Zimbabwe national 15s rugby team, the Sables, are in Siberia where they will play Russia in a 2015 International Rugby Board World Cup qualifier this Saturday.
Following the heartbreak in Madagascar where the impressive Brendan Dawson-coached side narrowly missed on automatic qualification for the 2015 England World Cup to rivals Namibia, the rugby flagship side continue to chase the World Cup dream via the gruelling play-off route.
Possible opponents Uruguay and Hong Kong, all ranked above Zimbabwe, clash on the same day for a date with the winner between Zimbabwe and Russia.
The Sables who have been having two sessions a day since Monday seem to be gaining confidence and believe that they can cause an upset and progress to the next stage.
The one-off match – the first ever meeting between the two countries – will take place on Saturday 2 August, and will be refereed by Nigel Owens of Wales with fellow countrymen Sean Brickell and Wayne Davies appointed as assistant referees.
Following the conclusion of the CAR Africa Cup, Zimbabwe are currently ranked 27th in the IRB World Rankings – seven places below the Bears, who have yet to taste victory since Raphael Saint-Andre replaced Kingsley Jones as head coach for the IRB Nations Cup in June.
On the same day, Asia qualification runner-up Hong Kong will play the second team in South America, Uruguay, in Montevideo. That match will be refereed by Federico Anselmi of Argentina with the assistants coming from the same union, yet to be appointed.
A place in the two-leg Repechage final awaits the winner of both matches as the race to secure at place at England 2015 reaches its climax.
Details of these matches will be announced in due course.
The winner of the Repechage will join Australia, England, Wales and Fiji in Pool A of Rugby’s pinnacle tournament next year.
By its conclusion, 3,000 players from 83 teams across six continents will have taken part in a record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification process featuring 203 matches.
QUOTES FROM RUSSIA
BRENDON DAWSON, HEAD COACH
“With what’s at stake we are here to win, I believe we have what it takes to win this match. We have been working hard as a team and everyone seems to be in a good condition. The boys are looking forward to the match and we are giving it our all, its all or nothing. They are ranked above us yes, but we have never played them so as far as I’m concerned its anyone’s game. We will go out there to win this match and we intend to play some attacking rugby. The team is ready and confident we will win this, everyone is looking forward to the game”
BRIGHTON CHIVANDIRE, TEAM MANAGER
“It was a long trip but we got here safe, we met with the South African based players in South Africa then everyone else in Amsterdam. The trip however took a lot out of the boys. We got to train four times so far in these two days, we started with pool session then a defence session on-field on Monday then on Tuesday we did the gym in the morning and another on-field session with the forwards”
” Everyone trained together apart from Guy Cronje who had a session separately with the team physio on both days. He got a knock on his knee but he also went through his agility session with ease. No flags yet as the physio said to me he is looking good and he might actually play in the match this weekend. Tomorrow is a tough day for the boys, as we will start with a gym session then two on field sessions. Off this will be physically demanding for them but we have to put in the work”
HILTON MUDARIKI, FLY HALF
“I’m very excited about it, it’s a great opportunity to be part of this team and I am confident that we will make it despite the fact that it looks like a tough match. I am looking forward to the match against Russia and I am very excited to be a part of the team, I hope we will take a good result back home”
COLLEEN DEJONG, ZRU VICE PRESIDENT
“I am off to Russia to rally behind the boys. I am looking forward to seeing the Sables consolidate their quest for RWC 2015 qualification.
This is the next step in the road… and I believe they can achieve their goal in Russia. The team is focussed, prepared and determined. I am confident they will make Zimbabwe proud. I wish the team all the best in this match, I am confident we will return with something good, result wise”