Namibia jinx still haunts Zim rugby legend

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Tadious Manyepo

Harare - The destiny of the Zimbabwe 15s side, the Sables, is firmly in their hands.

They have one foot in the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and they only need a bonus point against Namibia in their last match of the qualifying tournament in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

As they storm into the park, they are sure by the time they leave they will be celebrating qualification to the global showpiece on an automatic ticket.

But Namibia has other ideas. The Welwitschias themselves know a win will take them to the finals.

The duel is closely fought but Namibia prevail 24-20. The Welwitschias are ecstatic. The Sables wonder if they can pull through a playoff against Russia.

Zimbabwe fall 15-23 in Russia, and another World Cup dream is in tatters. Not only that, it is the second consecutive time that Namibia have denied Zimbabwe a place at the Rugby World Cup.

One of the key members of that Sables squad, Gerald Sibanda cannot help but dwell at length on these two heartbreak moments in his soon-to-be released biography.

"Namibia, the nemesis...," he writes. "As we enlivened on our dream to qualify for New Zealand in 2011, Namibia stood on our way and stripped that from us. They came again in 2015 when it looked almost certain that we would be making it to England and again they qualified ahead of us."

Sibanda, who turned out for Gala Rugby Club in the Scottish Premiership, says his book highlights the journey he walked from his days in primary school to winning the Rugby Sevens Series.

"I am chronicling my struggles so that I can inspire others out there who aspire to be top rugby stars," he says.

Sibanda has founded Athletes Sphere Management, which seeks to take young sportspersons to European leagues.

"This is my way of trying to bridge the gap. I played rugby at the highest level in Europe and I know for a fact that there are a lot of talented athletes not only in rugby, but other sports as well, who don’t have the exposure to make it in Europe.

“Athletes Sphere Management will sign athletes and try to place them in the top leagues in the world.”

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