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ZIMBABWE Under-20 chairman and former Sables winger Aaron Jani has urged the youthful rugby players to set realistic goals and not to turn their backs on their motherland.

Each year, most of the talented players, who graduate from high school go abroad where they believe they will be good enough to don the national colours of their adopted countries.

But a lot of them fail in their quest to do so.

Jani believes his Under-20 franchise has never fielded their best side despite the fact that they have been to three Junior World Rugby Trophy tournaments and two Junior World Championships.

This means Zimbabwe has been among the top 16 junior rugby playing nations but has never appeared at the world stage with their best players.

“We have never fielded the best side possible at Under-20 level because youngsters believe they can play for South Africa, England and the like.

“In seven years I am yet to see one youngster who has made it to play for another country and has earned the national colours of the that country at a senior level, but many have tried,” said the Harare businessman.

While some players are turning their backs on playing for Zimbabwe, those that have been exposed to the more professional set-up are, however, coming back to play for this country.

Such players include Golden Lions scrumhalf, Guy Cronje, who recently featured for the Sables and qualified to play for Zimbabwe as he has roots tracing him here. One player who came through the Young Sables set-up is flanker Andrew Rose who, having played for the Zimbabwe Under-20 side, went on to represent Scotland at Under-21 level before returning home last year and earning his first cap for the Sables in the Africa Cup in Madagascar.

Jani made these remarks prior to the Zimbabwe Under-18 schools side’s departure for the annual Coca-Cola Craven Week rugby festival last Friday and urged the young players to aance with the game as the Craven Week is only the beginning of life.

“Every year a group of young stars like you go through the Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby franchise and in the last seven years we have participated at the JWRT four times. There is no bigger tournament (for the juniors) than the Junior World Cup, which caters for the top eight and the Junior World Trophy, which caters for the other eight teams to make up the group of 16 in age-grade rugby.

“Many of you make the mistake of thinking once you represent Zimbabwe at Craven Week you are done, it’s only the beginning as many opportunities lie ahead for scholarships, overseas placements, travel and skills development.

“From Under-20 there is the men’s XVs side or the Sevens side, so guys please consult your coaches about your abilities and the scope of success.

“You will get an honest opinion so that we can together set realistic goals and build lasting memories and support our nation and Zimbabwe rugby,” said Jani.

Source : The Herald