Tight competition for rugby tour places in the offing

Brain Murandu

TIGHT competition is expected at the rugby national schools trials being held today and tomorrow at Prince Edward High in Harare to choose the squad to tour South Africa for the annual Coca-Col

a Craven Week in July.


All the best possible talent available in the “rough-and-tumble” sport for schools is expected to be paraded at PE this weekend. Harare province wound up their selection process last weekend at Borrowdale’s St John’s College.


The selection process has however not been without controversy. Observers have in the past alleged selectors were too “elitist” as they preferred certain schools over others. The youngsters are set to fight to gain a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for exposure to the tougher and more professional SA leagues.


However PE’s Patrick Gumunyu, a convener and organiser of the Coca-Craven Week trials, said every talented player will get a chance to prove their worth.


Tongues were set wagging over the composition of the Harare A side which is dominated by St John’s and St George’s Colleges while equally talented players from PE Tigers coached by Godwin Murambiwa and Churchill Bulldogs were relegated to Harare B.


But there is no denying that when all is said and done, Esigodini-based Falcon College’s head who is also in charge of rugby at the school, Reginald Querl, should feel proud to travel with a squad strong enough to be a national team.


Matabeleland are also expected to send A and B sides while Masvingo, Midlands, Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West are expected to send their A teams only after last week’s final provincial trials.


There is nothing to take away from St George’s College which toured South Africa recently with Christian Brothers College (CBC) of Bulawayo.


Churchill High’s pair of fullback Tongai Nemadire and team-mate Gerald Sibanda are tipped to make it together with PE Tigers’ eighthman Keinen Marais and prop Edrien Harrison


Most of the players have impressed during the Cottco rugby festival and the on-going Schweppes schools rugby league.


CBC’s wing Arnold Sibanda, prop Bongani Moyo-Majwabu and wing Lucas Grant could fight Matabeleland’s cause if their efforts are not overlooked at provincial trials.


Selectors will have to cast their net wider as last year’s side was dominated by Falcon, PE and to a lesser extent Peterhouse Kings of Marondera.


Zimbabwe’s schools squad has never hit the headlines against the tougher SA opposition with Namibia also coming in as a thorn in the flesh for team.


Local players who have made it into the SA league include former PE Tigers’ quartet of Tonderai Chavhanga now at Stormers, Piet Benade, Gordon Pangeti and Harold Hawadi.


Former Churchill Bulldogs’ Munyaradzi Mhonda was also snapped up by a Botswana club and could be SA-bound as certain clubs have expressed interest in his signature.