HARARE – Zimbabwe’s rugby team steps up its preparations for next month’s important Africa Cup tournament in Uganda with a return friendly away to neighbours Zambia this afternoon, the Sables accompanied on that Lusaka trip by the local game’s top new leadership.

New Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president Losson Mtongwiza and head of the Sables Trust, Lindsay Earle, are in the Zambian capital with the Zimbabwean side side to offer full support at the beginning of a very ambitious bid to reclaim the Southern African nation’s position as a continental power.

Alongside the industrious duo of Mtongwiza and Earle in Lusaka is the equally energetic Dr Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, one of the two new vice-presidents of the ZRU and also a member of the Sables Trust, a committee appointed to help source resources for the senior men’s national side.

Coach Piet Benade, as he did in the Harare leg in April against Zambia, will be searching for combinations by mixing mostly local-based experience and youth ahead of the more tougher trip to Kampala.

Takudzwa Musingwini, who captained Zimbabwe’s Under-20 side to the first of their back-to-back Youth Africa Cup titles in 2022, gets Benade’s nod at fly-half. Interestingly, both coach and his number 10 shone brightly in that position, in different eras, for their alma mater, Harare’s Prince Edward School.

Lock Huntley Masterson and hooker Bryan Chiang – who were part of the successful Young Sables set-up of the past three years – will make their senior debuts off the bench against the Zambians today.

Outside-centre Dion Khumalo made his maiden senior Sables appearance against the Zambians in Harare two months ago, and has been thrown into the fray again, starting against the Chipopolo in the Lusaka Showgrounds clash.

Khumalo’s midfield partner Kudzai Mashawi, returning to the fold after coming out of brief international retirement, captains the Sables.

Seasoned scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki, Zimbabwe’s substantive skipper over the past six years, has a place in the match-day 23 as one of the impact players.


15 – Taddy Dzandiwandira 14 – Takudzwa Kumadiro 13 – Dion Khumalo 12 – Kudzai Mashawi (captain) 11 – Darrel Makwasha 10 – Takudzwa Musingwini 9 – Keegan Joubert 8 – Aiden Burnett (v/captain) – 7 – Brian Nyaude 6 – Tadiwa Gwashu* 5 – Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa 3 – Neil Mawere 2 – Simba Mandioma 1 – Jeff Makoni.

Replacements: 16 – Bryan Chiang* 17 – Zvikomborero Chimoto 18 – Bornwell Gwinji 19 – Huntley Masterson* 20 – Colin Nyaoda* 21 – Simba Siraha* 22 – Hilton Mudariki 23 – Trevor Gurwe*

*Denotes new caps


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