THE eleventh edition of the annual CottcoÂ Schools Rugby Festival comes to life next week with up to 90 schools registering for this yearâ€™s event.
The festival, to take place from April 27 – May 2 at its traditional venue Prince Edward School in Harare, is aimed at promoting rugby in Zimbabwe by encouraging schools to play rugby thus creating a wider base for participation at national level.
Cottco Rugby Festival director Sebastian Garikai said they hoped to make the festival bigger and better than last yearâ€™s edition.
â€œThis year up to 92 teams have registered and confirmed their participation. We also have referees from different African countries. We have the likes of South Africa, Uganda and Tunisia to grace the occasion.â€
In a move aimed at spreading and developing the game in the country, the festival will see a group of development teams playing under the watchful eye of Zimbabwe Rugby Union selectors. The teams will play on Monday and Wednesday.
The selectors will choose two teams that will play each other on the final day of the festival and this forms the basis of progressing the unionâ€™s ideas of an under-19 rugby academy.
Garikai said this is part of Cottcoâ€™s major objective to spread rugby to schools throughout Zimbabwe and increasing the national player pool.â€œThis will identify hidden rugby talent and it will bridge the gap between schools rugby and club rugby. It will also help build credible national rugby sides.â€
A coaching clinic for managers and coaches wil be held on Tuesday. The clinic seeks to provide rugby sides with basic playing skills.
As part of the programme to familiarise school rugby teams with anti-doping efforts, players and coaches will get lectures on the sidelines of the tournament in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.
BY KUDZAYI TIGERE