Zimbabwe national rugby union team

The Zimbabwe national rugby union team, nicknamed the Sables, represents the African nation of Zimbabwe in international competition, and is administered by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union. While sides representing the colony of Rhodesia have played as early as 1910, the modern day Zimbabwe rugby team did not play its first test until 1981, against Kenya. Zimbabwe has competed in two World Cups, in 1987 and 1991, in place of South Africa, who were sanctioned by the IRB at the time due to apartheid. Zimbabwe is categorized as Tier 3 Development One, which prioritizes Zimbabwe over other nations due to historical success as well as popularity of rugby in the nation.

Nickname(s)The Sables
EmblemZimbabwe Bird
UnionZimbabwe Rugby Union
Head coachBrendon Dawson
CaptainHilton Mudariki
Home stadiumPolice Ground; Hartsfield
First colours
World Rugby ranking
Current34 (as of 20 September 2021)
Highest25 (2015)
Lowest57 (2008)
First international
 Southern Rhodesia 11–24 British Lions
(Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (Now Zimbabwe); 30 July 1910)
as Zimbabwe
 Kenya 24–34  Zimbabwe
(Nairobi, Kenya, 23 May 1981)
Biggest win
 Zimbabwe 130–10  Botswana
(9 September 1996)
Biggest defeat
 Namibia 80–6  Zimbabwe
(Windhoek, Namibia; 15 August 2015)
World Cup
Appearances2 (First in 1987)
Best resultPool stage, 1987 and 1991

During the colonial days, the team had an association with touring British Isles teams, who regularly played matches against them in their tours of South Africa; the earliest tour being in 1910 when Zimbabwe was known as Southern Rhodesia. The side has also played New Zealand on several occasions, the first being in the late 1920s; Zimbabwe is the only non-Tier 1 nation to defeat the All Blacks, as the Southern Rhodesia side defeated New Zealand in 1947.

Zimbabwe currently compete in the Africa Gold Cup, considered the equivalent of the Six Nations in Africa. Zimbabwe have won the competition once, in 2012 Africa Cup, and finished runners up in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Excluding the Springboks, Zimbabwe is one of only 3 nations in Africa to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, the others being Namibia and the Ivory Coast. The Sables maintain fierce rivalries with regional neighbors Namibia and Kenya, as the respective three nations have vied for African supremacy since the 2000s.

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