Junior Sables back in business

11 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Junior Sables back in business

The Sunday Mail

Deputy Sports Editor

ZIMBABWE Under-20 rugby coach Shaun De Souza still has the drive to continue helping the Junior Sables dominate the African game and get another crack at the World Under-20 Trophy.

Despite successfully defending the Barthes Trophy and punching a ticket to the World Under-20 tournament, De Souza still wants more from the side.

This year’s World Under-20 Trophy is set for July 2-17 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The continental tournament — the Barthes Trophy — has been scheduled for April 18-28.

It is believed Zimbabwe are frontrunners to host the Barthes Trophy, although that still awaits confirmation.

The side that will lift the Barthes Trophy will join Uruguay, Netherlands and the United States or Canada in Pool B of the World Ruby Under-20 Trophy.

After Rugby Africa revealed its intention to hold the third-tier competition in the country, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) engaged the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to seek clearance.

“We have submitted the required paperwork to the SRC and we hope and feel confident that we will indeed host the Barthes Trophy,” said ZRU chief executive officer Sifiso Made.

“We are back-to-back Barthes champions and hosting the competition will certainly give our boys a slight edge going into this year’s edition, in which we hope to repeat our exploits from last year.

“Hosting the competition will be big for both the country through tourism and sport, as it will allow the fans to come and see the boys in action.”

As back-to-back champions, the Junior Sables will be the team to beat.

“On one hand, these are indeed exciting times as news has filtered out that Zimbabwe may host this year’s Barthes Trophy, and the boys seem to be enjoying it in camp.

“Not taking anything away from playing at home, I do fear that it may give us a bit of overconfidence to some extent, and I wouldn’t want to dwell on that too much,” said De Souza.

“Also, kids coming to games from home is not the same as going on tour and being together in camp.

“There are certainly two minds to it from a coaching perspective.”

The team has been working around the clock in preparation for both the Barthes Trophy and the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy.

“Preparations started in earnest back in November/December last year with our talent identification programme, just after the end-of-year exams, and we called in some of the players we have been tracking and others interested,” he added.

“The numbers were not as high as in previous camps, but we did have a look at them and witnessed an increase in players from overseas.

“It gave us a chance to have a look at them before they went back to university and their clubs, and we should be making the necessary announcements for the High Performance, Nedbank Rugby Challenge and Barthes Trophy squads in the coming weeks or so.”

The coach expressed satisfaction with their preparations so far.

“We are halfway through the Paramount Under-20 League and we hope to have our final green and white weekend on March 9, after which we will announce the Nedbank Rugby Challenge squad.

“This competition has become a staple part of our preparations and we hope to have two squads playing in this year’s seniors’ competition.

“We will have a High Performance team and Junior Sables team, and these guys will be playing for the final selection for the Barthes Trophy squad.

“We have retained seven players from last year’s team and hope to have some of them for the Barthes and everyone for the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy.”

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