Rugby season roars into life

By Brain Murandu

THE 2004 Lion Lager Premier League rugby roars into life tomorrow with action-packed encounters scheduled for various venues across the whole country.



rdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>With operation “Let the games begin” being the motto, Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) chief executive officer Titus “Tithes” Zvomuya confirmed they had decided to resume play while negotiations for a “better package” was being sought from sponsors Delta Beverages.


“We can’t continue waiting because players want their game, so while negotiations are still under way, the league will kick off,” declared Zvomuya.


Although last year’s sponsorship of $8m has been eroded by inflation against high transport costs for clubs, the ZRU chief refused to discuss the amount they proposed to Delta.


“I’m not at liberty to discuss figures because that will be in bad faith for the sponsors but we’re expecting more than what they gave us last year,” he said.


Zvomuya said traditional sponsors Lion Lager, had not responded to the ZRU’s budget proposal.


Matches were scheduled to kick-off on February 28 but the delay in sealing sponsorship deals kept the rough-and-tumble game off the domestic pitches for more than a month.


Local sides have however been compensating for that with tours to South Africa where they played teams from the tougher South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) league’s provincial sides.


This season’s programme kicks off following the ouster of ZRU president Lawrence Majuru who has been replaced by Bryn Williams.


Talent in both administration and in the form of players has been deserting local rugby. Before last season began, Old Miltonians’ Jeffrey Tigere left for Germany, Old Hararians’ James Nyatanga went to New Zealand while the OH duo of Costa Dinha and Edmore Takaendesa left for Germany.


Meanwhile, Bulawayo’s Hartsfield ground hosts bitter rivals – Western Panthers and Busters tomorrow whilst Old Hararians begin the defence of their title against Gweru Sports Club in Harare.


The second round of the Lion Lager premier rugby league is set for April 17 with two clashes in Bulawayo and three in Harare for the 10- team league.


2004 season-opener fixtures:

OH vs Gweru Sports Club – Old Hararians

Buster vs Western Panthers – Hartsfield (Bulawayo)

Varsity vs HSC – Harare Sports Club

Mabvuku vs Old Miltonians – OH

Shabanie vs Mashonaland Country District – McAdam (Zvishavane).