ZIMBABWEAN rugby at grassroots level is set for a major boost with the introduction of the Tag Rugby Community Club League for primary schoolchildren in an effort to develop young talent as well as raising the profile of the sport at large.
Tag Rugby is a non-contact version of the sport which girls and boys can play together on an equal basis. The sport follows the rules of the full-contact version of rugby, but rather than tackling each other, players must grab a fabric tag that is attached to the body of their opponents.
The Tag Rugby Community Club League initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Tag Rugby Trust Zimbabwe in partnership with the United Kingdom-based charity, Tag Rugby Trust, gets underway in the capital this weekend with the pilot project set to initially run for nine weeks.
Tag Rugby Trust Zimbabwe country manager Tinashe Shamu told Standardsport that the pilot project was expected to deliver and increase participation in the minimal contact version of the game across the country.
“Thousands of children in and around Harare are already familiar with tag rugby, the non-contact version of the full rugby game suited to young boys and girls. Now the kids will have the chance to compete against each other in a league programme,” Shamu said.
“The full league programme will run over a nine-week period consisting of three training dates, three league fixture dates and three community work weekends. The success of this pilot project will shape the timescale and format for the launch of further leagues around the country.”
Since the inception of Tag Rugby in Zimbabwe four years ago, Shamu has coordinated tournaments across the country and taken the sport to primary schools in urban and rural areas in places such as Harare, Bulawayo, Marondera, Wedza, Matopo, Hwange and Victoria Falls.
With the sport being well-received in areas where rugby was previously unheard of, last year saw Tag Rugby Trust Zimbabwe initiating the formation of community clubs in some of the areas.
“The formation of community clubs was a resounding success with over 40 clubs being formed across the country in 2015,” Shamu said.
Teams are expected to hold training sessions this weekend, with Donnybrook Primary School in Mabvuku set to host the first set of fixtures on January 23, followed by Glen View on February 13 while the final showdown will be held on March 12 in Chitungwiza.
The Tag Rugby Trust has run school programmes in many countries including Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Mexico and India, among others.