By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S top rugby players have been handed an opportunity to rub shoulders with the best players in neighbouring South Africa and beyond following the country’s confirmation in the 2022 edition of the Currie Cup First Division.
The Currie Cup First Division is the second-tier domestic competition in South Africa, below the top-tier Currie Cup Premier Division.
Zimbabwe will play in the competition under the name Goshawks. They are one of the four international teams expected to be incorporated into the Currie Cup First Division alongside Kenya, Georgia, and possibly Namibia.
The competition will allow Zimbabwean rugby players to gain the much-needed game time and exposure ahead of the final phase of the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers to be played in France this July.
Zimbabwe will be making a return to South African domestic competition after they fielded a team in Supersport Rugby Challenge three years ago, playing under the name Zimbabwe Rugby Academy.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president Aaron Jani confirmed that their application to feature in the Currie Cup First Division has been accepted by the South Africa Rugby Union (SARU).
“We did our application last year to participate in the domestic competition in South Africa and it was accepted. So, we will be participating in the second tier of competition in South Africa (Currie Cup First Division) and it’s not only Zimbabwe who will be participating outside the South African teams, we will also be having Kenya, Namibia, and Georgia,” Jani said.
“So, it is with great pride and joy to announce our participation in this prestigious competition and we will officially set up a base in South Africa for the competition. The key to our success will be the participation and support of all Zimbabweans and indirectly,” he said.
While the schedule for the Currie Cup First Division is yet to be finalised and the Goshawks squad has not been revealed, Zimbabwe will use the competition to prepare for the 2022 Africa Cup, which doubles as the final phase of the World Cup Qualifiers in France slated for July.
The 2022 Africa Cup will act as the third and final round of the African Qualification process, whereby the winner of an eight-team knockout competition will automatically advance to the World Cup.