Barthes Trophy: Why Kenya U-20 vs Zimbabwe clash is set for a new kick-off

Barthes Trophy: Why Kenya U-20 vs Zimbabwe clash is set for a new kick-off

Festus Chuma 11:12 - 27.04.2024

Barthes Trophy final round matches set to be played on Sunday at Harare Sports Club have been rescheduled.

Rugby Africa has taken decisive action to ensure player safety by rescheduling the key matches in the final round of the 2024 Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy at Harare Sports Club. 

The decision, prompted by insufficient lighting and injury delays, aims to prioritize the well-being of the young athletes participating in this prestigious tournament.

The original schedule had the defending champions, Zimbabwe U20, set to face last year's runners-up, Kenya, at 3 pm EAT on Sunday. However, this has been moved to an earlier time of 2 pm EAT. 

Similarly, the encounter between Namibia and Tunisia, which was also part of Sunday’s lineup, has been advanced from 1 pm EAT to 11am EAT. These changes were confirmed by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) in a statement released yesterday.

Explaining the reasoning behind the adjustments, the ZRU statement highlighted that the rescheduling was necessary due to "delays caused by injuries in the first match of Match day two between Kenya and Tunisia, which led to a late finish in the last match between Zimbabwe and Namibia."

 The statement also noted that "the lighting at Harare Sports Club was deemed to be insufficient and hence would compromise player safety and welfare."

The spotlight on player safety comes in the wake of increased scrutiny regarding the conditions under which young athletes compete, especially in high-stakes environments

Zimbabwe U20 head coach, Shaun De Souza, expressed his thoughts on the challenges his team faced and the tactical adjustments made following their earlier games.

 "We did a lot of work after our first game against Tunisia. In the line-up, we went with a bit of a defensive system and I think it paid off," De Souza said. 

Despite not fully executing their planned running style, Zimbabwe managed to secure a victory over Namibia, putting them in a strong position ahead of the final.

The modifications to the game schedule are not just logistical but strategic, allowing the teams to play under optimal conditions. 

The importance of this decision is amplified by the fact that the cup winners will qualify for the U20 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by Scotland in September. 

This places additional pressure on the teams, particularly Zimbabwe and Kenya who have both performed flawlessly thus far in the tournament.

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