TWENTY-FIVE schools have signed up for next week’s Power Sales Schools Rugby Festival, the first major junior competition on the domestic calendar before the actual season begins.
A visit by Sportszone.co.zw to several school grounds in Harare witnessed the start of preparations as teams aim for accolades at one of rugby’s oldest school competitions.
Themba Phiri, the festival co-ordinator, said an unspecified number of teams from Botswana had also confirmed their participation by the registration cut-off date of March 20, 2017. The tournament runs between April 7 and 8 at Bulawayo’s main rugby arena Hartsfield and is organised by the Matabeleland Rugby Football Board.
Boys’ institutions like Milton and Gifford High schools from Bulawayo and their Plumtree Boys High counterparts are relishing the opportunity of locking horns against their Harare rivals such as Prince Edward, Ellis Robins, Churchill, Marlborough and Allan Wilson School.
Allan Wilson director of sports Livingstone Maurukira said “Dub” had already set in motion their preparations on Monday this week and were looking forward to an improved performance from last year.
“This year will be more like the Allan Wilson of old,’’ he told Sportszone.co.zw.
“Our old boys have come in strongly to support our teams with provision of kit, balls and other equipment and are also renovating our famous rugby pitch, the Graveyard, and this has extremely motivated the boys.’’
According to Phiri, each school will be allowed to enter three teams for the first team, second team and Under-16 categories.
“The programme and all other relevant information will be sent out to participating schools in due course. But coaches and managers will be expected to attend a meeting prior to the event to discuss all matters concerning the tournament,’’ he said.
The tournament takes place annually on the first weekend of the April school holiday, some three weeks before the Dairibord Rugby Festival goes on show at Prince Edward in Harare. It has seen the top rugby-playing schools in the country take part including private colleges like Falcon from Esigodini, Harare’s St George’s and St Johns as well as Peterhouse from Marondera and Hillcrest of Mutare.
“The idea of the tournament is to promote rugby and also to help schools prepare for the rugby season. A lot of teams go on tour and battle to find games in aid of their preparations and hence this tournament,’’ said Phiri.