2024 Barthes Trophy pressure mounts

12 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
2024 Barthes Trophy pressure mounts Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira (in black top) helps Under 20 rugby players with scrum techniques.


ZIMBABWE Under-20 rugby coach, Shaun De Souza is wary of the threat posed by Tunisia ahead of the opening fixture of their 2024 Barthes Trophy campaign.

Tinashe Kusema

The venue of the tournament, slated for April 20-28, has been switched to Harare Sports Club as the designated ground.

In their last encounter, Zimbabwe ran through their North African opponents 60-6 to seal a spot in the final last year.

With the win, the Junior Sables booked their place at the Junior Rugby Trophy as their finals opponents Kenya had already qualified by virtue of being hosts.

Zimbabwe, much like they did in Kenya last year, go into the tournament as reigning champions and favourites.

However, they will have the added pressure of performing in front of a home crowd as Zimbabwe are hosting the tournament.

Tunisia are still as cagey and secretive as ever as very little is known about them.

Also, De Souza has only managed to retain seven players from his last campaign and only five will be available.

“Tunisia will be tough, much like they have always been,” said the gaffer.

“During the 2022 edition, we barely scrapped through as we scored a try in the 78th minute and managed to win by a point.

“They are a very strong French-styled team and never an outfit to underestimate.

“We are always looking for footage of how they are doing but usually fail as they are quite secretive in that regard.

“This means we are going into that tie relatively blind, and we will only see how they look when we play them.

“That being said, we will have to put our best foot forward and hope that will carry us through,” he said.

Ever the glass-half-full kind of person, De Souza has opted to prepare to the best of his abilities and leave no stone unturned during these final days before the Barthes Trophy officially kicks off.

The 2024 Barthes Trophy has since been turned into a four-team tournament with Tunisia, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe participating.

The Zimbabwe Under-20 coach recently announced a 32-men squad, one he will trim further and remove four players before the start of the tournament.

De Souza has described the process of elimination as heartbreaking because the responsibility of cutting players solely rests on his shoulders.

“The preparations have been going on well, I think having a wide base to choose from gives you more food for thought because your mind keeps racing as you are always looking at different combinations and different options,” he                                                                   said.

“I think we have done well getting it down to the 32-men squad, but it is a difficult process.

“I spent some time with these players, pushing them to get to their best and seeing them improve every day. Having to cut them now is just tough.

“Unfortunately, it is part of the job and we have to keep moving,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Junior Sables are currently in camp as they fine-tune their preparations for the all-important tournament week.

A scrimmage game against the Zimbabwe A team has been set for tomorrow after which De Souza will finally announce his final squad of                                         28.

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