THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union are targeting a third straight victory in the Barthez Trophy.
Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Madagascar, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire and Zambia take part in rugby’s youth tournament.
The competition is set for April and the host country is yet to be named.
ZRU vice-president, Martin Shone, says the top priority for the Young Sables was to retain the prestigious Under-20 competition.
The plan is already in place for the junior team. They have started training. They started having their training camps last year.
“When you are the defending champions, you are the hunted. We have to up our game. We lost some players from the previous squad but we have several others who have come through.
“The coaches are still the same and they have our full support.
“We have most of the players playing in the Under-20 league, which will start soon, which gives us enough time to assess their progress.
“We have newcomers in the league and that will boost our player hunt.
“We are definitely on the right track, we are leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of defending our Barthes Trophy crown,” said Shone.
Organised by Rugby Africa, the Barthes Under-20 Trophy is the official African Rugby Championship for national teams in the age bracket. The Junior Sables have won the previous two editions of the competition.
In 2022, Zimbabwe were champions after they beat Namibia 19-14 to end an 11-year drought for the trophy.
Last year they won the competition after beating hosts Kenya 28-7.
Zimbabwe has always produced some of the finest junior rugby players on the continent with its schools’ rugby system providing a regular dosage of exciting talent.
However, some of the country’s most promising young rugby players are lost along the way and don’t make the transition to play for the Sables.