By Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe senior national rugby team will go into their crunch Rugby Africa 2022 encounter with the Ivory Coast on Friday full of confidence after surging up the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.
The Sables’ 30-7 win against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday came with a reward of 2.62 points, taking their overall rating to 54.44 points and moving them up to 27th in the rankings. The Dutch drop two places to 28th.
In gaining seven places, Zimbabwe are now at their highest position since they were 26th back in November 2015 and 15 places better off than their Rugby Africa Cup 2022 quarter-final opponents.
The match against the Netherlands was Zimbabwe’s first in Europe since 2014 and they outscored their hosts four tries to one.
Centres Takudzwa Chieza and Matthew McNab got on the scoresheet as the Sables established a 15-0 lead before the Dutch replied through Liam Stone.
Debutant full-back Takudzwa Musingwini and replacement hooker Liam Larkin then rounded out the impressive win which sees the Sables overtake the Netherlands in the rankings.
Zimbabwe are now three places behind rivals Namibia, who are Africa’s second highest ranked nation on position 24.
The victory in Netherlands was a first by a touring Zimbabwe in Europe. The Sables their first Test match on the continent since 2014 when they lost 23-15 to Russia in a 2015 Rugby World Cup repechage match in Siberia.
Meanwhile Sables skipper Hilton Mudariki was delighted with the team’s performance during the victory, which ensured they wrapped up their preparations for the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers on a high note.
“We’re very happy with the result against the Netherlands. Obviously, we came into this game knowing that it was our last one before the Africa Cup, so it was very important to make sure that we executed and played as well as possible,” Mudariki said in an interview.
“This was also an opportunity to create history and become the first Sables team to win in Europe, but the most important thing was to make sure that we get some confidence going into the match on Friday.”
After their win in the Netherlands, the Zimbabwe team returned to Paris on Monday, where they will continue their preparations ahead of their match against West African giants Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals of the Rugby Africa Cup on Friday.
Should they win their quarterfinal match, the Sables are likely to face a semi-final match against their old foes Namibia, who have an easy last-eight match against Burkina Faso.