ZIMBABWE’S fledgling schoolgirl rugby players will be eager to maintain their impressive record at the annual SA Rugby National Girls U18 Week when they take on South African provincial side Griquas tomorrow. The match will be played at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium in Welkom, Free State.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Mentored by seasoned rugby coach Nsikelelo Sibanda, the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Under-18 girls rugby team has been one of the success stories in local rugby in the last three years.
Since their participation in the inaugural edition of the tournament held at Glenwood High School in Durban two years ago, Zimbabwe’s Under-18 girls’ rugby side has finished third and fourth respectively out of 16 teams.
The team, which leaves the country for South Africa this morning, was given a rousing send-off last night at Heritage School, where they have been camping for the final leg of their preparations.
Sibanda, the Zimbabwe coach said he was expecting a tougher campaign compared to previous years.
“Obviously, we have done well in the last two editions and it’s something that we want to continue doing but at the same time we also have to be cognisant of the fact that everyone is working hard to beat us. So it is going to be tougher this year even though we have been working hard to do well,” he said.
Sibanda, who is also the acting Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) director of rugby said he was pleased by the continued growth of the women’s game which is reflected by the composition of his squad.
“It’s pleasing that we have a lot of players in the squad who are coming from the previously non-traditional rugby schools around the country. For instance, in this squad we had players from Sahumani Secondary School in Honde Valley, who had made the squad but unfortunately they didn’t have travel documents,” he said.
“It is quite pleasing that the game is spreading and the rate at which it is growing in some of those areas in the outskirts is good and amazing for the future of the women’s game in Zimbabwe.
“Obviously, this would not be possible without the support from the parents, the schools and last but not least our sponsors Old Mutual, who have put in a lot of resources to ensure the girls, have adequate preparations for this tournament.”
Zimbabwe’s match against Griquas which kicks off at 11:10am is one of the several high-profile battles lined up for the opening day’s play of the SA Rugby National Girls U18 Week, which runs until Friday.
Border, who held off a strong challenge from arch-rivals Western Province in the final match of the tournament last season in Kimberley, will take on the Blue Bulls, while the Capetonians will meet Kwazulu Natal in two of the main games when the competition kicks off.
The eight matches on day one will be split between two fields, with Boland and the Limpopo Blue Bulls, and the Free State and Golden Lions respectively, getting the tournament underway.
Zimbabwe will make their third consecutive appearance in the competition, with their first match being against Griquas.
The teams will play matches on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
Similarly to the SA Rugby Youth Weeks for boys, sponsored by Coca-Cola, the teams that display the best rugby during the opening three days play will meet in the final match of the tournament on Friday.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe U18 Girls Rugby squad:
Nicole Makurumidze, Nyasha Tutani (both Royal College), Cynthia Maungwe (Excel College), Ropafadzo Deshe (Glen View High 1), Rumbidzai Makaza, Chipo Geza, Catherine Chimutsa Ropafadzo Madya Sisasenkosi Moyo, Eshel Makoni (Goromonzi), Eryka Mack (Zengeza High 1), Keisha Kapfunde (Roosevelt), Elector Magandani (Mother Touch), Shamiso Chiwanda (Tafara 1), Memory Dzivakwi (Lord Malvern), Lorraine Evans (St Benedicts), Charmaine Mwadzira (One Commando), Stacey Mabika (Cubs), Samantha Chirongoma, Loveness Karambakuwa, Trish Ngwiringwiri, Tanyaradzwa Taisireva, Malanda Tinarwo (Vainona), Sandra Moyo (Hatfield), Kuzivakwashe Bindu (Eaglesvale), Chiwoniso Mabika, Leanne Max, Debbie Mutebuka (Girls High), Chantel Farikani (Dzivarasekwa 2)
Head coach: Nsikelelo Sibanda
Assistant coach 8 coach: Kimberly Marowa
Team manager: Charity Chigoma
Physiotherapist: Anne Butau