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Midlands Rugby On The Rebound

By Delicious Mathuthu

Midlands club rugby is on the rebound following the hosting of a Rugby 7s Tournament at Josiah Tungamirai (Thornhill) Airbase in Gweru on Saturday (8 October 2022) after a long break.

The Rugby 7s Tournament saw three teams partaking, namely Gweru Sports Club (GSC), Josiah Tungamirai Airforce (JT Airforce) and Mkoba Rugby while the fourth team, Midlands State University, failed to make it due to short notice.

Gweru Sports Club dominated the inaugural 7s games beating JT Airforce and Mkoba Rugby 17-07 and 24-05 respectively.

Airforce beat Mkoba 24-00.

Speaking after the tournament, GSC Rugby Chairperson Munyaradzi Mugabe said the tournament gave the teams a self assessment going forward and was a way of giving players game time with the hope of coming up with strong squards to compete in other Provinces.

“Tournaments such as the Gweru 7s are meant to try and identify talent that will enable us to come up with a strong squard to participate in upcoming tournaments in Bulawayo and Harare.

“It allows us to have rugby being played in Gweru and give game time to players.

“Such tournaments will benefit Gweru and the Province as it gives school leavers a chance to play and improve their skills at club level.

“The games gave teams a chance to identify strengths and weaknesses and areas of improvement.

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“We have future plans to make the tournament bigger and better as this will bring rugby back in Gweru and the Province; and give us a competitive advantage against teams in Bulawayo and Harare.

“We believe this will improve the current status of rugby in Gweru and Midlands as we were affected due to no rugby being played in the recent past,” Mugabe said.

Josiah Tungamirai Airforce Rugby team Vice-Chairman, Malvean Mapfumo, said he is hopeful that rugby in Gweru will be revived as youthful players took part in the tournament.

“The tournament was great, I would love to give thanks to the teams that showed up and gave us a great day of rugby.

“I am disappointed that MSU did not show up but I am glad to see young blood amongst the rank and file of all teams; the future is bright,” he said.

On the current state of rugby in the Province, Mapfumo said there is need to revive the local rugby league and grow the game to include juniors and women. 

“I am saddened by the lack of games in Gweru and I am hoping for the revival of the local league in the Midlands Province.

“We need to have rugby being played week in and week out, we need ladies teams and junior teams,” he said.

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For JT Airforce team, Mapfumo said after the Saturday tournament they have spectators who now want to join the club at JT rugby, they got to introduce a new fan base and helped revive the spirit of the team and the (JT Airforce) base as a whole.

Getting to play competitive professional club rugby for the first time as a team, Mkoba Rugby Team Manager, Anderson Ncube, said the tournament was a learning curve and an interesting experience for the players.

“The tournament was a big deal for us because it was the first time for some of the players to play competitively which is something they have been waiting for, for a while now.

“This tournament highlighted everything we need to work on as a team and on individual levels,” he said.

“As for rugby in the Province I would say a lot has to be done development wise, from grass roots levels to engaging key stakeholders in order to restore Gweru Rugby to it’s house hold name status, the talent is there it just has to be natured,” Ncube added.

The Saturday 7s tournament is expected to continue and grow with more teams from Zvishavane and Kwekwe expected to join in.

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