BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
HIGHLY-rated United States-based Zimbabwean rugby star Jason Robertson, who has been tipped to play a prominent role in the Sables’ bid to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup in three decades, is set to make a huge leap in his professional rugby career after completing a big move to France.
The 26-year-old New Zealand-bred flyhalf and prolific point scorer in Major League Rugby (MRL) with Old Glory DC, last week signed a two-year deal with Narbonne, who recently confirmed a return to France’s second tier competition, the Pro D2 after earning promotion from the Nationale.
Robertson will complete his move at the end of the current MRL season, becoming the latest Zimbabwean to make a move to France’s second tier after tighthead prop Farai Mudariki, who recently signed a two year contract extension with USON Nevers.
The imminent move comes as a blow for Old Glory DC who have seen Robertson flourish in his two seasons at the club forming a highly effective halfback partnership with Samoa international Danny Tusitala.
He led MLR in scoring in 2020 and is currently fourth on the charts in 2021.
This will be the first European adventure for Robertson, who has pledged his international future to Zimbabwe despite growing up in New Zealand.
The gifted flyhalf was born in Harare and attended Ruzawi School before immigrating to New Zealand where he has represented played for provincial sides Counties Manukau, Waikato and Bay of Plenty in the Mitre 10 Cup, which is the most competitive domestic competition in world rugby.
He also spent a season in Japan with Tokyo Gas in 2017 in hopes to start his career in Super Rugby.
Robertson is one of the several players around the world, who qualify to represent Zimbabwe either through birth or ancestry that have expressed their desire to represent the country in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
At Old Glory he is teammates with Scottish born, New Zealand-bred flanker Mason Mungo who has also expressed willingness to represent Zimbabwe in the upcoming Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Mungo was born in Glasgow in Scotland to Zimbabwean parents.
The pair of Mungo and Robertson were teammates of Springbok legend Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira at Old Glory DC when the Zimbabwe born global icon signed for the Washington DC club last year after announcing his retirement from international rugby.
They were expected to join the Sables camp ahead of the first phase of the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in Tunisia next month, where Zimbabwe will play in a three-nation Pool D competition in Tunisia this July against the hosts and Burkina Faso.
The US-based duo takes the number of Kiwi-bred Zimbabwean players in the current Sables squad to four after exciting outside centre Brandon Mudzekenyedzi and prop Doug Juszczyk, who made their debuts in the recent friendlies against Zambia.
Zimbabwe warmed up for the upcoming Rugby Africa Cup with two double-header friendlies against Zambia in Harare, beating the neighbours comfortably by score-lines of 31-8 and 56-3 on June 2 and 5 respectively.