Petros Kausiyo and Tadious Manyepo
ZIMBABWE’S Sables received just the tonic they needed ahead of their Rugby Africa Gold Cup Group 1A opening assignment against Morocco at Harare Sports Club on Saturday with more sponsors coming on board to support the game’s flagship team.
Peter De Villiers’ men will kick-start their bid for a place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan with a cagey assignment against the North Africans who have the potential to stage an upset if treated lightly.
It will be the first time that the Sables will be playing a competitive game since former Springboks coach De Villiers took charge of Zimbabwe in February.
But the Zimbabwe Rugby Union, through the Sables Trust, a vehicle through which corporate partners and sponsorships have been sourced for the game — are not leaving anything to chance.
And Aaron Jani and his executive have battled long and hard to ensure the players and the technical crew are motivated ahead of the campaign.
ZRU president Jani yesterday revealed that they had secured sponsorship deals with more partners who include Machinery Exchange, Dairibord and Seedco Zimbabwe.
Dairibord already enjoy a partnership with rugby through the annual schools’ sports festival that is hosted at Prince Edward.
Jani also explained the roles of their sponsors.
“Zerttew Resources, an International mining company whose focus is on minerals such as chrome, lithium and many others is our major sponsor, covering all the Sables welfare, travel, accommodation, food and technical support.
“The premier Law firm Titan Law and Portnex are supporting with player welfare and logistics.
“Leading sports kit manufacturer Canterbury sponsored all the kit requirements on and off the field and Dairibord Zimbabwe, the leading producer of dairy products and water, provided all the nutritional support and is the official water supplier for all the Sables’ water requirements.
“Seedco provided logistical support to the Union,’’ Jani said.
The ZRU boss also said Machinery Exchange have injected over $30 000 in the refurbishment of the venue for Saturday’s showdown between the Sables and Morocco, and secured the naming rights to the stadium.
“Machinery Exchange are a leading service provider to the construction, mining and transportation industries in Zimbabwe.
“They have helped revamp the match venue which has since been renamed The Machinery Exchange Rugby Stadium which is located at Sports Club.
“They have renovated the seating area, scoreboard and field which is currently closed until the match on Saturday.
“Financial giant Old Mutual have provided logistical and catering needs for the Union. Fawcett Security, the leading security firm in Zimbabwe, have assisted with security needs free of charge and provided some logistical needs,’’ Jani said.
He said there was a wave of excitement in the game.
“Indeed, it’s a dream come true. I am overwhelmed by the support and indeed grateful . . . this is what dreams are made of,’’ Jani said. Jani is now expecting a full-house at Sports Club.
De Villiers also revealed his excitement at the prospect of presiding over his first assignment with the Sables.
“I am excited but very nervous. Nervous in that we are playing after the country failed to make it to the Cricket World Cup and you know that the focus has now been shifted to us.
“I have been supported greatly by the union, the players are also very professional and I think this will bring a whole new dimension to Zimbabwe rugby.
“We are prepared for the onslaught. Most of the players I have at the moment have the pedigree after having played for the national team at age-group levels. Some have played for the senior team already.
“This match is a big test between a country against a country. We have to go all out and try to get a positive result,’’ De Villiers said.
The veteran coach is also happy with the level of preparedness of his team.
“We have prepared the players for more than a month now. The spirit is high and we are all looking for a win.
“We have a lot of experience and then we do have some youngsters. Rugby will not stop after this year and we as Zimbabwe will want to be one of the best in the game.
“On Saturday, we will be gunning for a win. We have tried to get footage of how the Moroccans play. We should be ready for anything that they can throw at us. We are preparing to be ready for the showdown,’’ De Villiers said.