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Rugby in Zambia: The Sables’ Swift Rise in Southern African Rugby

Rugby match underway at a stadium with dramatic cloudy skies as spectators look on.

If you’re keen to discover the underdog stories of rugby, Zambia’s tale is not to be missed. Once overshadowed in Southern African rugby, Zambia’s national team—affectionately known as the Sables—is now climbing rapidly through the ranks.

This article will reveal how a determined squad and passionate support are transforming Zambian rugby into a thrilling spectacle. Get ready to witness an inspiring journey through tackles and triumphs!

Key Takeaways

  • Zambia’s national rugby team, known as the Sables, has climbed quickly through the ranks in Southern African rugby and is now ranked 67th by World Rugby.
  • The growth of rugby in Zambia includes a rise in club competitions and youth development programmes aimed at nurturing young talent and promoting the sport throughout the country.
  • Notable players like South Africa’s Siya Kolisi serve as role models for Zambian youths, inspiring them to aspire towards success both on and off the pitch.
  • Rugby has become an important part of Zambian culture, uniting people from different backgrounds, fostering national pride, and contributing to social inclusivity.
  • The Sables’ achievements have brought increased attention to Zambian rugby within Southern Africa, marking its progress not only on a national scale but also within regional competitions.

History of Rugby in Zambia

In Zambia, rugby may not have the long history it boasts in some neighbouring countries, but its roots are spreading fast. The game first appeared on Zambian soil as a sport for expatriates and was played informally among those who missed the scrums and tackles of their homeland.

Despite these early days being somewhat informal, a passion for rugby grew steadily.

As this enthusiasm took hold, local Zambians began embracing the sport. They carved out their chapter in African rugby through sheer grit and determination. Clubs formed, competitions sprang up, and soon enough, Zambia had its own national team – a symbol of pride and progress in the regional rugby scene.

This team came to be known affectionately as the Sables and they stamped their authority within Southern African rugby ranks with remarkable speed. Their participation in international tournaments like the Rugby World Cup highlighted how far they’d come from those modest beginnings among expat circles.

Zambia’s commitment to nurturing this once foreign sport has seen the emergence of homegrown talent determined to chase oval-shaped glory both at home and abroad.

Growth and Popularity of Rugby in Zambia

Rugby in Zambia has been experiencing significant growth and popularity, with a notable increase in the number of national teams, club competitions, and youth development programmes.

The sport is gaining momentum and gathering a strong following within the country.

National Teams

The Zambia national rugby union team has made significant strides in the sport, despite being a minor but growing rugby nation. Ranked 67th by World Rugby, the national team, known as the Sables, has showcased remarkable performance and development.

Their recent opportunity to play against the All Blacks in Australia marked a milestone for Zambian rugby, highlighting their dedication to advancing within Southern African rugby.

With efforts focused on nurturing talent and promoting participation at both the national and youth levels, Zambia’s national team is contributing to the steady rise of African rugby.

Zimbabwe’s national rugby union team also known as The Sables has risen swiftly in Southern African rugby. The country boasts a rich history of embracing this sport since its early days and now holds an important place in Southern African competition through its dedicated players’ hard work and determination.

Club Competition

Zambia’s rugby scene is vibrant and growing, with the club competition playing a crucial role in nurturing local talent. The clubs provide a platform for players to showcase their skills and compete at various levels.

The competitive nature of these clubs fosters the development of aspiring rugby stars, contributing to the overall growth and popularity of the sport in Zambia. With a strong emphasis on skill-building and teamwork, these competitions serve as breeding grounds for future national team players.

As rugby gains momentum in Zambia, it’s essential to recognize the pivotal role that club competitions play in honing talent and promoting the sport across different regions. The commitment to fostering local talent through these competitions has contributed significantly to Zambia’s ascent in Southern African rugby.

Youth Development

Zambia’s efforts in youth development for rugby are gaining momentum, with increased focus on nurturing young talent in the sport. The country has seen a rise in school and club programs, providing opportunities for aspiring rugby players to develop their skills from an early age.

Initiatives such as coaching clinics and youth tournaments have been pivotal in identifying and honing potential athletes, contributing to the growth of Zambia’s rugby talent pool.

Furthermore, these programs aim to instill values of teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship among the younger generation while fostering a passion for the game.

Notable Players

Siya Kolisi, the first black captain of the South African national rugby team, has made a significant impact on the sport and inspired many young players in Zambia and across Southern Africa.

To learn more about the rise of rugby in Zambia and the Sables’ swift ascent in Southern African rugby, keep reading!

Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi, the South African rugby union player, has made a significant impact on the sport in Zambia. As the first black player to captain the South African national team, he has become a role model for many aspiring rugby players in Zambia and across Africa.

Kolisi’s leadership and success have inspired young players in Zambia to pursue their dreams of playing professional rugby.

Kolisi’s journey from a challenging background to becoming one of the most respected players in world rugby resonates with many Zambian fans. His rise to prominence serves as a powerful example of determination and resilience for young athletes in Zambia who aspire to make their mark on the international stage.

Impact of Rugby in Zambia

The impact of rugby in Zambia goes beyond the playing field, with a significant social and cultural significance. The rise of the Sables has also brought attention to the sport and its potential for growth in Southern Africa.

Social and cultural significance

Rugby in Zambia holds a significant cultural and social importance, uniting people from diverse backgrounds. The sport has played a role in breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity within the country.

The rise of the Sables, Zambia’s national rugby team, has sparked widespread enthusiasm and pride among Zambians, contributing to a sense of national identity and unity. Additionally, rugby has provided opportunities for youth development and empowerment in communities across Zambia, fostering teamwork, discipline, and leadership skills.

The sport’s growth has also served as a platform for showcasing Zambian talent on an international stage while raising awareness about the country’s rich sporting heritage. Furthermore, rugby’s presence at both professional and grassroots levels has created avenues for cross-cultural interactions amongst players from different regions within Zambia.

Rise of the Sables

The Sables, Zambia’s national rugby team, has experienced a remarkable surge in Southern African rugby. With their consistent performance and impressive development in the sport, the Sables are gaining well-deserved recognition on the regional stage.

The team’s rapid rise is not only contributing to the growth of rugby in Zambia but also enhancing its status within Africa’s competitive rugby landscape.

Zambia’s Sables have been making strides in Southern African rugby, garnering attention for their exceptional progress and dedication to the game. The team’s continued success is testament to their commitment and determination as they carve out a prominent position within regional rugby circles.


Rugby in Zambia has experienced a rapid ascent, with the Sables making significant strides in Southern African rugby. The sport’s growing popularity and impact on Zambian culture are undeniable.

Notable players like Siya Kolisi have also contributed to the sport’s rise in the country. With its steady growth and promising future, rugby continues to make an indelible mark on Zambia.


1. Who are the Sables in Southern African rugby?

The Sables are Zimbabwe’s national rugby team, and they’ve quickly become a strong force in Southern African rugby through their impressive play and rising rankings.

2. How has Rugby developed in Zambia?

Rugby promotion efforts have led to more robust rugby union teams in Zambia, increasing participation and enhancing the skill level throughout the country.

3. Are there documentaries about Rugby in Zambia or Zimbabwe?

Yes, there are documentaries that capture the history of rugby development, including those focusing on teams like the Sables and other Southern African rugby squads.

4. What is the position of Zambian and Zimbabwean teams in African rugby leagues?

Zambian and Zimbabwean teams have shown significant progress with improving performances leading to higher positions within various regional and continental tournaments.

5. Do countries from East Africa participate in Rugby tournaments with Zambia?

Indeed, East African rugby is also part of larger competitions where they often meet with both Zambian national rugby team players as well as those from other Southern African nations.

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