ZIMBABWE’S Sables will next year play international matches on home soil for the first time since 2012, according to the new Africa Cup competition structure for 2015 announced by the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR).
In a development which will give local rugby fans an opportunity to watch the national side play at home, Zimbabwe is scheduled to host Kenya and newly-promoted Tunisia in 2015 CAR Africa Cup Group IA matches.
The Sables open their 2015 CAR Africa Cup campaign against the Rugby World Cup- bound Namibia in Windhoek on June 6 before the Welwitschias’ participation at the quadrennial showpiece set for September 18 to October 31 in England.
A week later, Zimbabwe will then return home to host the Kenyans in Harare on June 13 before concluding their campaign with another home match against Tunisia on July 4.
The Sables last played against the Kenyans at home in 2011 in a match they won 26-21 in front of a packed home crowd at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe are, however, yet to host the Tunisians in an international match, but in the last encounter between the two sides in the North African country, the Sables won 14-30 on their way to winning their maiden Africa Cup title in 2012.
Zimbabwe, who narrowly missed out on qualification to next year’s Rugby World Cup in England, has not hosted international XVs rugby matches since beating Uganda 22-19 in a CAR Africa Cup match at Hartsfield Stadium on 14 July 2012.
The match was part of the now-defunct Victoria Cup competition.
The Sables are expected to start 2015 CAR Africa Cup Group 1A under the tutelage of a new coach following the expiry of Brendan Dawson and assistant Cyprian Mandenge’s contracts after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union, who on Monday announced the appointment of Brighton Chivandire as the new director of rugby are, however, yet to advertise the vacant Sables coaching post.
The return of international XVs rugby matches comes at a time when the country was recently awarded the right to host the 2014 CAR Men Sevens tournament which will take place on November 29-30.
The tournament will be held at the Harare Sports Club and is set to involve 12 countries, Kenya Uganda, Tunisia, Nigeria, Madagascar, Namibia, Botswana, Senegal, Zambia, Ivory Coast, South Africa and the hosts Zimbabwe.