By Albert Marufu
DEFENDING CAR Africa Cup champions Zimbabwe have received a major boost ahead of the 2015 IRB World Cup qualifiers after being invited to the Emirates Cup of Nations to be held in Dubai later this year.
The six-team tournament will see Zimbabwe joining Hong Kong and Belgium in Pool A while hosts United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Papua New Guinea plays in Pool B. The event runs from December 8 to 14.
Sifiso Made, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union acting general manager confirmed the development and said the team will also be traveling to Portugal following a similar invite from the European country.
“The continued success of the Sables means that they get some recognition. They are now known as a team that can compete and not just participate in a tournament. We also have another invite to play Portugal later this year as well,” he said
“The committee has already begun working on raising the required funds and I am sure we will fulfill the fixtures. These invites come at the right time for us after we failed to defend the Victoria Cup due to lack of resources.”
Zimbabwe will be hoping to keep their form that saw them beat Uganda 22-18 in the CAR Africa cup Group 1A thereby keeping their place in the same group next year and hopefully they win the 2014 edition of the tournament to join South Africa at the 2015 IRB Rugby World Cup which will be held in England.
South Africa, the defending champions do not play in the qualifiers owing to the huge gulf between them and other African nations.
Sables coach Brandon Dawson hopes his charges will be able to fulfill the fixtures after failing to defend the Victoria Cup due to lack of finance.
“We are going to start preparations soon and hopefully it will be within the next two weeks.
“We have to go to Dubai with a strong side and that is why preparations have to start soon,” he said.
The Sables have taken part at the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups.