By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE has stepped up their preparations for the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy title defence in April after announcing an enlarged squad of 73 players for the 2023 competition which will be played in Kenya.
The Barthes Trophy is the biggest competition for Under-20 players on the continent with the winners qualifying for the World Rugby Under-20 Junior Trophy.
Kenya will once again host the continent’s Under-20 championship, which will feature eight teams namely, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Madagascar, Uganda, Tunisia, and Ivory Coast.
The winners of the tournament will join Kenya as Africa’s representatives at the 2023 World Rugby Under-20 Junior Trophy which will also be hosted in the East African country in July.
In the lead up to April’s continental tournament in Kenya, the Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team’s technical team has drawn up an enlarged squad which was selected based on a training camp held in December as well as the Paramount Garments Under-20 League which kicked off early this month.
“We have announced the 2023 u20 High performance squad which we will monitor closely. We will drop those not holding their weight and add new players if need be.” De Souza said.
“We have also considered our continuity the pathway and cycle of our program with 65 days to go before we compete to retain our 2022 title of the Barthes Trophy and qualify for that one open spot at this year’s World Rugby U20 Junior World Trophy where Kenya have an automatic qualification as hosts.”
In an effort to ensure the players have the necessary game time ahead of the trip to Kenya, the Junior Sables U20 High performance team will play in the second edition of the Nedbank Challenge Cup which will be played in Harare from March 11 to 18.
The Junior Sables are also hoping to play two friendly matches against Botswana in Bulawayo with their final squad.
Zimbabwe’s Under-20 rugby side had a memorable campaign at last year’s Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy in Kenya as they confounded expectations on their way to winning the title after beating Namibia in the final.
After starting the campaign as one of the lower ranked sides, the Junior Sables kick-started their campaign with a nervy 19-18 win against Tunisia before comfortably dispatching Madagascar (32-03) in the semi-finals.
De Souza’s charges capped off a successful campaign with a hard-fought 19-14 win against arch-rivals Namibia 19-14 in the final for their first continental crown since 2011.
They followed that up with another successful campaign at the World Rugby U20s Canada Conference.
Zimbabwe’s Under-20 rugby side ended their campaign at the high-profile tourney in style with a 43-35 win over Chile at the Guelph University in Ontario, Canada. The victory secured a second overall finish for the Junior Sables in the four-nation series after beating hosts Canada in the first match before going down to the eventual winners Uruguay.
Zimbabwe Under-20 Provisional Squad
Forwards: Happias Zhou, Tadiwanashe Marumisa, Farai Madzima*, Rogers Tayengwa, Takunda Mudzingwa, Munashe Ndhlela, Giordano Sarpo, Tamuka Kambani*, Tawananyasha Bwanya, Shingi Manyarara*, Tashinga Makiwa, Kelvin Kaseke, Godfrey Zvinavashe, Tafadzwa Gwaza, Kudakwashe Gotora, Tadiwa Chimwada, Gerry Zisengwe, Martin Hakunavanhu*, Bryan Chiang*, Takudzwa Zvomuya, Darryl Mwenso, Tanaka Gondo-Mukandapi, Allan Mawunga, Vincent Chimwendo, Muzuva Gutu, Prince Chinyadura, Tendai Maruma*, Tinotenda Matimbira, Joseph Benning, Ryan Mckenzie*, Nqobile Manyara, Gealan Jaricha, Gamaliel Munembe, Stanley Muranganwa*, Tadiwa Mazanhi, Jackson Munyaka, Huntley Materson, Leo Mutendi, Hagler Muchenji, Tanaka Ndoro*, Tadiwa Gwaraba, Mwaita Makanza*, Takudzwa Kamucheta, Panashe Taderera.
Backs: Panashe Zuze, Brendon Marume*, Alex Nyamuda, Kudakwashe Nyamushaya, Tadiwanashe Unganai, Edward Sigauke, Panashe Mugorogodi, Simbarashe Kanyangarara, Tadiwa Ngirazi, Cole Musanigwa, Shadrick Mandaza, Benoni Nhekairo, Dion Khumalo, Tanaka Chinyanga, Dereck Karuma, Munotida Marimirofa*, Oliver Masara, Tawanda Matipano*, Nigel Siabwanda, Damien Moyo, Welton Charumbira*, Kholwani Moyo, Jerome Sagomba*, Kelton Kaseke, Vuyani Ncube, Brendan Jameson, Taona Mapani, Mbekezeli Siziba, Callon Matsikira.
*Denotes players based outside Zimbabwe.