THE Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team have been dealt a heavy blow after the re-introduction of the national lockdown.
The teams is supposed to take part in the Barthes Cup and it is now doubtful if they can manage to take part in the tournament that is scheduled for early April.
Barthes Cup is used as a qualifier to the Junior World Rugby and Zimbabwe are likely to miss out again.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union executive officer, Sifiso Made, said it will be a challenge to prepare the players for upcoming assignments and they are likely to miss out like they did last year due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown.
“We were in a good recovery path after all sports codes were given the greenlight to resume their activities late last year and we had started some preparations for the Under-20 team.
“The players were meeting regularly to practice and to remain in shape and with the re-introduction of the lockdown all efforts are going to waste. The players were just keeping fit as we expected the tournament organised by World Rugby and Rugby Africa to return to the fold.
“It will be difficult for us to take part in the tournament as preparations needs at least four months of intense training so for us the whole of this month is likely to be lost. We will remain positive that the players will work hard for the lost time when time is right. We are hopeful that we will get through this phase and we urge the sports personalities to maintain World Health Organisation’s rules so that we remain safe,” said Made.
Zimbabwe Under-20 team is under the guidance of Prince Edward School coach Shaun De Souza and were meeting at Old Hararians for their preparations.
The lockdown will see several players missing out on opportunities to be scouted as their age will be a restriction by the time things return to normalcy.
Host nation Kenya are the reigning Barthes Cup champions after defeating Namibia 21-18 in the final in Nairobi in April last year. Chipu, as the Kenya national Under-20 squad are referred to, earned the right to represent Africa at the World Rugby Junior Trophy in Brazil where they finished sixth overall.