SEVERAL former and current international rugby stars, who trace their roots to Zimbabwe have thrown their weight behind the Sables’ bid to qualify for the 2023 World Cup to be held in France after taking up roles as ambassadors of the team ahead of the qualifiers starting next year.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
In an effort to galvanise support for the country’s flagship rugby team, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has lined up several fundraising initiatives to boost resources for the Sables ahead of a crucial season next year.
The initiatives include the appointment of Zimbabwe-born former Australia captain David Pocock, Harare-born England and Exeter Chiefs flanker Don Armand, ex-Springboks’ Tonderai Chavhanga and Adrian Garvey as Sables ambassadors.
Pocock recently revealed his desire to assist the Sables to qualify for their first World Cup since 1991 while Chavhanga was until recently a member of the national team’s technical team.
Chavhanga will next week be accompanied by fellow ex-Springboks star Garvey at the official launch of the Sables’ 2023 World Cup fundraising initiatives to be held in Harare on December 8.
ZRU president Aaron Jani applauded the coming on board of several international rugby stars to support the team ahead of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers.
Jani played alongside the legendary Garvey at Bulawayo club Old Miltonians and the national side before he switched allegiance to South Africa.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s best tight head props at his peak, Garvey scored two tries for Zimbabwe against Scotland at the 1991 World Cup in the United Kingdom before going on to play in two more World Cups in 1995 and 1999 under the South African flag.
“This event is not only a fundraiser, it is the re-launch of the Sables as a brand and the announcement of the beginning of our campaign to represent Africa in the 2023 World Cup,” Jani told Standardsport in an interview yesterday.
“It is a call to all Zimbabweans to rally behind the Sables in this international endeavour, together as Zimbabwe we can achieve. Having former global rugby stars such as Adrian Garvey is indeed a huge endorsement. Not only is he a former teammate at national and club level, he is a national icon and a friend.”
South Africa-based Sables team manager Jason Maritz said the event was an opportunity for the national rugby side to share its vision with the local rugby fans and particularly the sponsors.
“We are using the launch to provide knowledge to the public and in particular sponsors about our journey to this point and our journey towards the next 18 months, our plans and our preparations for the World Cup qualifiers.
“We have structures we have put down to drum up support for the team which include the Sables Trust, the Sables Rugby Network, as well as ambassadors with Tonderai Chavhanga, Adrian Garvey, Don Armand and David Pocock having shown interest and wanting to be our ambassadors as we walk this journey. So the evening is basically sharing, explaining and gaining the trust of the public and sponsors. It’s important to celebrate what we have done, but more importantly to understand the road ahead,” Maritz added.
The ongoing fundraising initiatives come on the back of a fruitful 2019 season, which saw Zimbabwe making their debut in the Supersport Challenge in South Africa before going on to win their first silverware in eight years after clinching the Victoria Cup
After the Sables’ 2020 commitments were shelved due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Sables are set to have a busy season next year.