Zimbabwe national rugby union team

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Zimbabwe rugby team logo.PNG
Union Zimbabwe Rugby Union
Nickname(s) Sables
Coach(es) Zimbabwe Brendon Dawson
Captain(s) Zimbabwe Daniel Hondo.
Team kit
Change kit
First international
Southern Rhodesia Southern Rhodesia 11 - 24 British Isles United Kingdom
(30 July 1910)
Largest win
 Zimbabwe 130 - 10 Botswana 
(9 September 1996)
Largest defeat
 Namibia 68 - 8 Zimbabwe 
(25 September 2004)
World Cup
Appearances 2 (First in 1987)
Best result Zimbabwe 20–21 Romania

The Zimbabwe national rugby union team is the rugby union team representing Zimbabwe. They are considered to be a third tier rugby union nation. The team has participated in rugby activities since the late 19th century with international matches being played as early as 1910.

The national team has a long association with touring British Isles teams, who would regularly play matches against them in their tours of South Africa. The earliest tour being in 1910 when Zimbabwe was known as Southern Rhodesia. The side has also played New Zealand on several occasions, the first being in the late 1920s.

The Zimbabwe national rugby team have competed at two World Cups, the first in 1987 and the second in 1991. With the Apartheid-era exclusion of South Africa, Zimbabwe were the first African nation to compete in the World Cup, although they are yet to win a finals fixture. The team are also known as the Sables.



When the Pioneer Column arrived in Rhodesia from the Cape Province in 1890 it brought with it the country's first rugby players. The oldest clubs in the country, Queens and the Bulawayo Athletic Club, were formed in 1894 in Bulawayo and the Rhodesia Rugby Football Union was founded one year later in 1895.[1]

The first tour by a Rhodesian team to South Africa took place in 1898, and was composed of players from the five biggest clubs in the two major settlements of Bulawayo and Salisbury (today called Harare).


A British Lions team played a side called Southern Rhodesia on 30 July in 1910 in Bulawayo, the British saw victory, beating the team 24 points to 11. In 1924 a British side would play another match against Rhodesia, on 24 July in Salisbury, the British won 16 to 3. On 14 July 1928, Rhodesia played in Bulawayo against New Zealand, losing 8 to 44.

During their 1938 tour to South Africa, the British Lions played two matches against Rhodesia. The first, taking place on 20 July saw the British win 25 to 11, three days later the British won again, 45 to 11. These matches were played in Salisbury and Bulawayo. The 1949 the Rhodesian Rugby team lead by John Morkel famously beat a touring All Blacks side lead by Fred Allen in Bulawayo 10-8 on 27 July. Three days later they drew with the mighty All Blacks in Salisbury 3-3.

The 1955 tour of South Africa by the British Lions, had two fixtures against Rhodesia. The first on 27 July in Kitwe was won by the Lions, 27 to 14. The Lions won 16 to 12 in Salisbury in the following game.

In 1960, New Zealand again returned to play a match on 2 July at Glamis Park, Rhodesia losing 14 to 29 (6-6 at half time). The 1962 tour of South Africa by the British Lions had Rhodesia as the opening fixture on the tour. The opening game of the Lions tour saw the visitors win in Bulawayo, beating Rhodesia 38 to 9 on 26 May. The next tour, in 1964, the Lions won in Salisbury, beating the side 32 to 6. In 1973 Rhodesia played a one-off match against Italy, winning 42 to 4. In 1970 Rhodesia played New Zealand for the last time on 27 July, losing 14 to 27. The final record against the All Blacks was an impressive Played 5, won 1 drawn 1 and lost 3. In 1974, the Lions were back at Salisbury where they defeated Rhodesia 42 to 6. The coming decades of the 1960s and 1970s saw a number of home-grown players considered good enough to be selected for South Africa.[2] Rhodesia's rugby playing strength reached its peak in the early to mid-1970s seasons when the country possessed 49 clubs, putting together 102 teams.[3]


In 1980 the Rhodesia Rugby Football Union was renamed the Zimbabwe Rugby Union. A tour to England was undertaken that year playing six matches, the first against Surrey at Twickenham and one of the others being against Gloucestershire at Kingsholm on 1 October.[1]

They played their first international game as Zimbabwe on 7 July 1981 against Kenya, winning 34 to 24. In 1987 they were invited to participate in the World Cup that year. Zimbabwe lost all three of its pool matches.

During the 1990s the Zimbabwe national team played regularly against Namibia as well as playing against the Ivory Coast and Morocco on a few occasions. In 1991 the team was again competing at the World Cup. Placed in pool B amongst sides Ireland, Scotland and Japan, but failed to win any games.

In June 2005, Zimbabwe started on the road to the 2007 World Cup, defeating Senegal 21 to 15 in the Africa round 1B: Pool A. But lost their second match against Côte d'Ivoire. Zimbabwe had a disappointing 2006 Africa Cup campaign, finished third in their group with Madagascar and Zambia.


Zimbabwe has produced many world-class rugby players over the years. Despite limited facilities and coaching, the country has been competitive up to high school grade. However, there is little incentive for most players to play beyond high school level, and consequently the club rugby pool is very diluted. There is little to choose from at national level and this has been the reason for Zimbabwe's rugby downfall.

As with many other sports, over the years numerous young Zimbabwean rugby talents have emigrated to play for other nations, mainly South Africa but also Australia, Scotland and other European countries. This trend has continued with players being attracted abroad by better playing and coaching facilities, as well as being pushed by the ever-declining economic climate in their country of origin.

The exodus includes some big names, the likes of Ray Mordt, Gary Teichmann, Brian Mujati, Adrian Garvey, Tendai Mtawarira, Bobby Skinstad, Tonderai Chavanga and Kennedy Tsimba (all to South Africa), David Pocock (to Australia), David Curtis (to Ireland), Scott Gray, David Denton and Paul Johnstone (to Scotland), Andy Marinos (to Wales) and Edmoore Takaendesa (Germany), to name but a few. The latest block of exiles sees Takudzwa Ngwenya (USA), David Denton (to Scotland), Tendai Mtawarira and Brian Mujati being lured to play for the Springboks. Many others are playing at top levels in New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and across Europe.


Their Test match record against all nations, updated to 18 July 2012, is as follows:[2]

Nation Games Won Lost Drawn Percentage of wins
 Arabian Gulf 1 1 0 0 100%
 Barbarians 1 1 0 0 100%
 Botswana 3 3 0 0 100%
 Ivory Coast 4 2 2 0 50%
 France 1 0 1 0 0%
 Georgia 3 1 2 0 33.3%
 Ireland 1 0 1 0 0%
 Italy 3 0 3 0 0%
 Japan 1 0 1 0 0%
 Kenya 13 9 4 0 69.2%
 Madagascar 8 5 2 1 62.5%
 Morocco 3 2 1 0 66.7%
 Mauritius 1 1 0 0 100%
 Namibia 23 3 20 0 13.04%
 Niger 1 1 0 0 100%
 Portugal 3 2 1 0 66.6%
 Romania 4 0 4 0 0%
 Scotland 2 0 2 0 0%
 Senegal 1 1 0 0 100%
 Spain 6 2 4 0 33.3%
 Tonga 1 0 1 0 0%
 Tunisia 2 2 0 0 100%
 Uganda 9 6 3 0 66.7%
 Soviet Union 4 2 2 0 50%
 Wales 3 0 3 0 0%
 Zambia 4 2 2 0 50%
Total 106 46 59 1 43.4%

World Cup Record[edit]

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 53 151 -
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 31 158 3 3 0 0 62 12
South Africa 1995 Did not qualify 6 3 0 3 169 120
Wales 1999 5 2 0 3 125 102
Australia 2003 2 1 0 1 82 45
France 2007 4 2 0 2 55 84
New Zealand 2011 1 0 0 1 21 35
England 2015 5 3 0 2 160 103
Japan 2019 To be determined To be determined
Total 2/8 6 0 0 6 84 309 26 14 0 12 674 501

Current squad[edit]

The Zimbabwe squad for the 2014 Africa Cup.[3][4] Zimbabwe were runners-up to Kenya in the 2013 Africa Cup; they will play Namibia, Kenya and Madagascar in the 2014 Africa Cup. The tournament will be round-robin format and will take place at Mahamasina Municipal Stadium in Antananarivo, Madagascar from 26th June to 6th July 2014. The 2014 Africa Cup champions will qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and runner's up can qualify through the international repecharge system.

Position Club
Peter du Toit Scrum-half Republic of Ireland Clontarf FC
Hilton Mudariki Scrum-half England Amersham and Chiltern RFC
Guy Cronjé Fly-half South Africa Golden Lions
Lenience Tambwera Fly-half South Africa Valke
Riann O'Neill Fly-half South Africa Natal Sharks
Daniel Hondo(c) Centre Zimbabwe Harare Sports Club
Danny Robertson Centre Zimbabwe Old Georgians
Stephan Hunduza Wing Zimbabwe Harare Sports Club
Gerald Sibanda Wing Scotland Gala RFC
Tafadzwa Chitokwindo Full-Back Zimbabwe Old Hararians
Tangai Nemadire Full-back Zimbabwe Old Hararians
Position Club
Keith Murray Hooker Zimbabwe Old Georgians
Matthew Mandioma Hooker South Africa University of KwaZulu-Natal
Pieter Joubert Prop Zimbabwe Old Georgians
Farai Mudariki Prop Zimbabwe Old Georgians
Lawrence Cleminson Prop South Africa Steinhoff Onderstepoort
Kevin Nqindi Prop South Africa Belhar Rugby Club
Denford Mutamangira Prop Scotland Ayr RFC
Jan Ferreira Lock Zimbabwe Matabeleland Busters
Schalk Ferreira. Lock Zimbabwe Matabeleland Busters
Sanele Sibanda Lock Zimbabwe Matabeleland Busters
Graeme Lawler Flanker Republic of Ireland Cork Constitution
Lambert Groenewald Flanker South Africa Golden Lions
Njabulo Ndlovu Flanker South Africa University of the Western Cape
Jacques Leitao (vc) Flanker Zimbabwe Old Georgians
Kingsley Lang Number 8 England Jersey R.F.C.

Players who have recently played for the Sables:

Position Club
Philemon Machisa Scrum-half Zimbabwe Harare Sports Club
Boyd Rouse Fly-half Zimbabwe Old Georgians
Tichafara Makwanya Fly-half Zimbabwe Old Hararians
Sean Moan Centre England Blackheath F.C.
Position Club
Royal Mwale Hooker South Africa Ballito Dolphins
Fidel Nyabusha Prop Zimbabwe Harare Sports Club
Nick Winwood Prop England Blackheath F.C.
Michael Passaportis Lock France Valence Sportif
Martin Wolfenden Lock England Cambridge R.U.F.C.
Andrew Rose Flanker Scotland Boroughmuir RFC
Fortune Chipendo Flanker Zimbabwe Old Georgians

See also[edit]



External links[edit]