PREPARATIONS for next year’s edition of the annual Zimbabwe Schools Rugby Festival are now in full swing with organisers recently sending out a circular, inviting all rugby-playing schools in the country to confirm their participation in the six-day competition.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
The 2018 edition of annual Schools Rugby Festival, which is arguably one of the biggest events of its kind in the world, will be held at its traditional venue, Prince Edward School in Harare from April 30 to May 5.
In his invitation to prospective schools, Prince Edward School sports director Tawanda Jimu said the objective of the Zimbabwe Schools Rugby Festival was to spread the game to all corners of the country and subsequently the entirety of the African continent.
“The Zimbabwe Schools Rugby Festival envisions rugby as the most suitable vehicle to improve the health and education of school pupils. The festival also creates a wider player base for ultimate participation at the senior and national level,’’ said Jimu.
“The festival also serves as an educational platform as a number of programmes are lined up on the sidelines, such as the observer programme, judo for rugby, adolescence issues, mentorship, sport and event management, coaching and refereeing clinics, career guidance and national affairs.
This year’s event witnessed some enticing clashes between some of the country’s top rugby playing schools. It was one of the biggest ever on record with 3 800 players from 150 schools from around the country showcasing their talent.
Four regional teams — Windhoek Gymnasium (Namibia), Livingstone Kalobe (Botswana), the Zambia Under-16, a Botswana Under-19 team and foreign referees were also there to add international flavour.
Last year’s edition saw the introduction of primary schools at the festival. This played a key role in the growth in popularity and success of women’s rugby in the country.
The festival has been credited for providing a springboard for world-class players such as Springbok star player Tendai “Beast” Mutawarira, former Springbok player Tonderai Chavhanga and Takudzwa Ngwenya (USA) among others and most, if not all of Zimbabwe’s national team players.
The annual Schools Rugby Festival has also helped to improve the standards of the game in the previously non-traditional rugby-playing schools in remote parts of the country.
Last year the festival received a major boost after its title sponsors — Dairibord Zimbabwe (Private) Limited — renewed their sponsorship package for the next three years.