Rugby clubs in the Midlands province have challenged the newly appointed Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) Interim Committee to help facilitate the development and decentralization of rugby to all corners of the country as they feel they have for long been left out.
This comes in the wake of the dissolution of the Nyararai Sibanda led ZRU board by the Sports and Recreation Commission for gross incompetence less than a month ago; leaving office with nothing to show but alleged traces of maladministration which led to a dismal performance by the national team (Sables) in the Africa Gold Cup campaign accompanied by a now stagnant Intercity Rugby League.
Led by former Sables backline player and Harare businessman Russel Karimazondo, the new ZRU interim committee is tasked with what some critics have termed “a chance for the rugby union to clear the stinking mess in their backyard and start afresh.”
Midlands ruggers hope this change in administration spells a new era for peripheral rugby in the country and be recognised as they set in motion their turnaround strategy.
Gweru Sports Club chairman Charles Gwanzura says the union should consider capacitating smaller clubs to compete with the top teams in the league.
“The new committee should implement mechanisms that help support smaller teams to become technically and financially strong to effectively compete against the big teams in the capital and hope the board has the desire to spread rugby to all corners of the country,” Gwanzura said.
Thornhill Airforce Rugby Club Development Officer, Malvean Mapfumo concured with Gwanzura adding that the new committee should consider reorganizing the sport and focus on grassroots development.
“We need more developmental programmes to be facilitated and decentralize all rugby activities.
“The new committee has to look at organising junior leagues like the under 20s and under 23s, revive the inter-Provincial competitions and have a proper national league running,” Mapfumo said.
Kwekwe Rugby Club representative, Cuthbert Tamuka Kuture is hopeful the change in ZRU leadership will incorporate all rugby stakeholders in the country and have deserving people running the sport.
“We need to make rugby appealing to the community and this (new committee) is a move in the right direction. We need to start putting people in positions on merit; previously there were a lot of egos in the union boardroom.
“This is a change we pray and hope that the people who have been tasked are for the good of the game,” Kuture said.
Midlands State University (MSU) Rugby Manager, Ashley Chimhanda welcomed the development in the union administration saying rugby support in tertiary institutions is needed more so support the implementation of a Varsity Rugby League.
“The new committee should give us their word that they will help Varsity rugby flourish and stick to it because all previous administrations just sold us dreams.
“We need to have a Varsity league running like in South Africa, though it might take time. We already have something in place in that respect and it would be great if the new committee would give us support from ZRU.
“In the end, what we need is equal opportunities for all to make it into the national team because as things are we don’t,” Chimhanda said.
Karimazondo will be working with former Old Hararians chairman Bongai Zamchiya, ZRU’s first female Vice President in 2010 Judith Chiyangwa, former national under 20 team manager at Junior World Rugby Trophy finals Tungamirai Mashungu and former ZRU president Sithembelenkosini Sibanda for the next six months before tjeir tenure expires or be renewed.
Due to limited developmental activities and lack of corporate support in the Midlands Province only one club is currently playing in the premiere Intercity Rugby League, Gweru Sports Club, while four other active clubs are plying their trade in the second division which is Thornhill Airforce, Kwekwe, Zvishavane and MSU.