By Tadious Manyepo
THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union have lined up two ties for the national Under-20 side against Zambia and Botswana as part of preparations for the Junior World Rugby Trophy Africa Pool B qualifiers at Harare Sports Club in April. The Junior Trophy World Rugby Trophy finals will be held later this year at a venue still to be determined but only one country from Pool A will represent Africa at the global showcase.
Zimbabwe, by virtue of being lowly-ranked, were placed in the second-tier section and will have to be at their best to top the pool and get elevated into Pool A.
Head coach Bob Mahari and his assistant Jeff Madhake have since trimmed the provisional squad of 50 to 30.
The ZRU has engaged Zambia and Botswana for possible friendly ties.
ZRU president, Aaron Jani, confirmed his union were in negotiations with the two neighbouring countries for possible friendly encounters.
“We are doing all we can to make sure that the team (Under-20) gets the best possible preparations ahead of the tournament,” said Jani.
“We have the advantage that we will be playing at home. We are expecting nothing but the best from the lads. We just have to be on top of our game to see to it that we emerge tops.
“What we are aiming for is simple. Topping the pool is our goal so that we get promoted into the top-tier pool where we stand a chance to compete for a place in the Junior Rugby World Trophy.
“So, we are in the process of engaging Botswana and Zambia for possible friendly matches before we plunge into battle against some of the best teams on the continent.”
Zimbabwe are in the same pool along with Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco and Madagascar.