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THIS year’s group of Young Sables proved to be the worst that Zimbabwe has sent to the Under-18 Craven Week tournament in five years as it produced the lowest points tally and departed without a win.

Zimbabwe had a chance of winning all their three games at last week’s Craven Week schools rugby festival in Middelburg, South Africa, but blew away all the opportunities to come out of the festival ranked amongst the worst performing teams.

The local schools side proved to be only better than Border Country Districts, who were ranked 20th with the Young Sables sitting on 19th place, in the 20 teams who took part in the competition for 18 South African franchises and their two guests Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Last year, Zimbabwe finished as the sixth best team but having lost to Eastern Province Country Districts (43-54), Griquas Country Districts (20-26) and falling to bitter rivals Namibia (25-38) in their final game on Saturday, they found themselves 13 places below the Namibians.

The loss on Saturday means the Namibians have dominated Zimbabwe at all levels played so far this year as none of the junior sides and the national XVs men’s side – the Sables – came out with a victory.

Ironically, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union had set the task of beating the Namibia as their biggest assignment on the international scene.

Young Sables captain Stephen Bhasera, who was also part of last year’s Craven Week side, said the results were not a true reflection of how they played.

“Looking at our performance from the results point of view, it’s rather disappointing but what I am proud of is that we managed a lot of points in this last week as the boys played some incredible rugby.

“However, we were not just able to close down on our opponents, which was undoubtedly disheartening, but nonetheless I am proud of how we played.

“It was a privilege to play in both sides and whilst both teams have differences, I feel that the constant feature in both these teams was the amount of heart and determination the players played with.

“I can say last year’s side was undoubtedly more talented but this year my team gave it their all and, as captain, I couldn’t have asked for anything more regardless of the results.

“Our problem was that we just were not consistent. The intent and the passion were there but we needed to be more clinical and we were not and that is what let us down in the end.

“But I will fight on and if selected for the Under-19 side I will be available,” added the Falcon College head boy.

Coach Godwin “Jaws” Murambiwa, however, sees a better chance of winning more games with a better side next year as most of the players in this year’s side are eligible for next year’s competition adding to some of the Under-17 players that would have graduated to this side.

Source : The Herald