Rugby World Cup African Qualifiers: Zimbabwe drew with Morocco today in Harare during the Rugby Africa Gold Cup
Zimbabwe ended the game on a 23-23 draw with Morocco today in Harare, Zimbabwe
What a thrilling opening game for the Rugby Africa Gold cup. It was a very close game, very well balanced actually
On Saturday 16 June 2018, the Zimbabwe Sables played against Morocco’s Atlas Lions during the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup, a qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. In a largely aggressive game, Zimbabwe drew its opponent 23 – 23 on the final whistle.
The first half began on a frustrating note for both teams as they each sought to make their way to the try line. Unequally matched, in terms of experience in the competition, the two sides proved to be equally matched on the field as they maintained a 00-00 point deadlock. In the first quarter, Zimbabwe conceded a penalty to Morocco giving flyhalf and man-of-the-match, Hmidouch Chakir an opportunity to kick for 3 points lead. Zimbabwe fullback Shingirai Katsvere proceeded to bring cheers from the home crowd as he scored earning his first Sables cap, a try which was successfully converted by Lenience Tambwera giving Zimbabwe a 7-3 point lead.
Twenty seven minutes in to the match, Morocco’s defense gave way to a second try from Zimbabwe’s debut player, Katsvere raising the score to 14-3. The Atlas Lions were not to be waylaid as they made a comeback with a try and a quick conversion by Chakir. Half-time saw Morocco leading their hosts 14-16.
The second half had Morocco and Zimbabwe actively taking advantage of the penalty system impacting on the scoreboard. Morocco conceded two penalties to Zimbabwe in the 67th minute allowing the hosts to lead 20-16. In the last fifteen minutes, Morocco fullback Jaoudat Souheyl added five points for his team which was successfully converted by Chakir, leading Zimbabwe 20-23. The match ended on a 23-23 draw owing to a penalty taken by Zimbabwe flyhalf, Lenience Tambwera.
Zimbabwe Sables captain, Denford Mutamangira said: "Morocco played well, we made a few crucial mistakes on our defense which we need to be corrected ahead of our next game.”
In an interview with Morocco captain, Arabat Hocine said: "We appreciate the ambiance the crowd brought today. We’ve only been able to train as a team for a week and playing Zimbabwe has given us a picture of how competitive our opponents are.”
Morocco coach Pierre Chadebech also added: “Zimbabwe was difficult to beat. We to need work on retaining the ball when going into contact and play a faster game. We will work on our mistakes in preparation for our game against Kenya.”
“What a thrilling opening game for the Rugby Africa Gold cup. It was a very close game, very well balanced actually. Well done to both teams, it promises an exciting tournament!”, said Abdelaziz Bougja, chairman of World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa.
“The excitement, support and suspense that surrounds the Rugby Africa Gold Cup keeps growing every year. The opening day of the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup has been hailed a huge success by the fans and sponsors. Rugby is the fastest growing sport in Africa and has seen record participation growth and fan engagement over the last five years”, said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO Group (www.APO-opa.com), the main Official Partner of Rugby Africa.
The next games will happen on June 23, where Namibia will host Tunisia as Morocco faces Kenya in Casablanca. Zimbabwe’s next fixture is scheduled for August 4, where the team will host Namibia at Hartsfield in Bulawayo.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa.