WHILE domestic top-flight soccer has hogged the limelight for its unprecedented failure to attract sponsorship this year, the Northern Rugby League has soldiered on silently without financial backing.
For a small sport such as rugby, one wou
ld have expected the game to go under.
With teams playing for nothing but pride and love for the sport, the Northern Rugby League has surprisingly been run smoothly.
Tomorrow, the top four teams after the round-robin league matches face off for a place in the final that will decide the regional champion for 2006.
Old Hararians Sports Club, the standard-bearer of Zimbabwean rugby for the past five years, come up against the Mashonaland Country Districts second-string side at OH.
With an intimidating OH line-up boasting a national team contingent of flyhalf Tich Chidongo, rising backline star Manase Sita, tighthead prop Alfred Sairayi and loose forwards Prayer Chitenderu and Basil Dingiswayo, MCD II may well find themselves playing for damage limitation.
But the MCD seconds have shown superb fighting spirit in the season to finish in the top four ahead of sides such as OH II and Harare Sports Club Under-23s. Like they did with invariable success throughout the season, they will “borrow” some of their first-team players to gain a useful balance in pursuit of an upset over OH.
Across town at Old Georgians Sports Club, a titanic battle between the senior MCD team and Harare Sports Club is on the cards.
With disappointment still fresh in the “Sportivo” minds of the belittling 29-8 defeat at the hands of MCD last Saturday, coach Sykes Sibanda will demand back the stubborn steak that his side are renowned for.
MCD are renowned for their powerful forward game, but of late they have added a bit of backline flair — a blend that Sports Club were ill at ease with last weekend. Agile fullback Martin Mahwani and national team trialists, flyhalf Sebastian D’Aquino and outside centre Daniel McKenzie, utilised phase possession won by their pack.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Under-19 side were last night taking on Tunisia in a semi-final of the 2007 Under-19 World Cup qualifiers in Casablanca, Morocco.