HARARE – Zimbabwe’s senior men rugby team will finish 2023 without playing a single international match, official Tests or unofficial, as the failure of yet another World Cup qualification bid continue to stifle the team’s potential and the game in general.

In fact, the Sables would not have played any rugby in nearly a year-and-half by end of 2023, the last time they took to the field being in the 20-12 defeat to Algeria in the third-place play-off of Africa’s World Cup qualification competition in France in July 2022.

It is a disheartening turn of events for a team that had so much hope and good vibes around it only last year when a return to the World Cup, for the first time since 1991, looked like a real possibility.

To prepare for the qualifiers in France, the Sables even played a historic first Test match against Netherlands, thoroughly dominating in Amsterdam to beat the Dutch 30-7.

That result saw Zimbabwe move up seven places on world rankings to number 27, leapfrogging Netherlands, who were previously placed higher.

But losses to Namibia and Algeria at the qualifiers had Zimbabwe dropping to 32 at the time.

An official with Zimbabwe’s rugby federation said the body doesn’t have “funds” to be playing.

To highlight Zimbabwe’s sorry state of affairs, the Sables have opted out of this year’s Victoria Cup – their traditional tri-nation competition with Kenya and Uganda – which at least provides good competition and generate interest among the three rival countries despite lacking Test status.

Zambia has seized the opportunity to take the place of their neighbours Zimbabwe in this year’s Victoria Cup. They will travel to Uganda this week, where three of the matches will be played. The Zambians will clash with Uganda on 28 October then Kenya on 5 November, both in Kampala.

Zambia, instead of Zimbabwe, will be the third side in this year’s Victoria Cup.

The Victoria Cup is named after Lake Victoria, which is shared by both Uganda and Kenya, and the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Zambians have always claimed the Victoria Falls as chiefly theirs. It seems they have gone a step further in laying that claim – through rugby.


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