THE stake and stage are different, so too are the opponents. But the characters will be the same for Zimbabwe, and they will be wearing the same famous green-and-white colours of the Sables. <
Tomorrow, the Sables run into the park at Hartsfield Stadium in Bulawayo hoping to notch their second Africa Cup win against the Emerging Springboks, a developmental select side for amateur players drawn from several clubs in South Africa’s major cities.
The Emerging Springboks have in their ranks Zimbabwean Dalisizwe Ndebele, a former Falcon schoolboy who is the assistant to the team’s head coach, André van Wyk.
No doubt, this has not been Zimbabwe’s year once again in rugby, with elimination by lowly Uganda from the World Cup qualifiers summing up the state of the game in the country.
Of course Zimbabwe were never anyone’s bet to go right through to France for the World Cup in 2007 if they had gone past the first round of the qualifiers, but defeat to Uganda was a massive blow local rugby would want to forget in a hurry.
But credit to the Sables, they took the defeat in their stride and made sure they did not miss the second opportunity, dismissing the Ugandans 13-5 a week later in the first match of the Africa Cup.
The Sables have retained the same squad that tumbled out of the World Cup qualifiers, but the Africa Cup is an opportunity for coach Chris Lampard to experiment with new combinations.
Utility three-quarters Victor Zimbawo and Emmanuel Munyoro are returning to the team after missing the last two games. Zimbawo had gone back to his Germany base while Munyoro was injured.
Both players helped Old Hararians retain the domestic championship for the fifth successive time when beating rivals Harare Sports Club a fortnight ago. Munyoro reclaims his position on the left wing in a starting line-up released by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union on Wednesday. Zimbawo starts on the bench.
Harare Sports Club three-quarter Willis Magasa, who has been offered a scholarship to join his former club-mate Daniel Hondo at Hartpury College in the UK, will play at fullback, swapping places with South African-based Cleopas Makotose who will partner first-centre Wesley Mbanje in the midfield.
University’s Brian Danhama gets his full Sables debut at right wing in place of injured young sensation, Tangai Nemadire. Veteran OH skipper Tich Chidongo has been preferred ahead of Mashonaland Country Districts’ Gary Hewitt at scrumhalf, probably on the back of his polished performance in the national final against Sports Club.