MIDLANDS State University rugby coach Trouble Burukai wants his charges to transfer their form in the sevens game to the fifteens when they take part in a pre-season Tertiary Institutions Rugby Tournament in Bulawayo tomorrow.
The Gweru outfit, which dominated the Zimbabwe Tertiary Institutions Games last year after winning gold in sevens rugby at Hartsfield Grounds, have kept their large pool of players and are hoping for continuity.
MSU warmed up to the tournament when they took part in a sevens rugby tournament last week in Zvishavane where they fielded three teams against the Zvishavane Bulls and Gweru Sports Club.
“We have quite a good selection of players from last year. So we have a strong pool of more than 35 players from which to pick our team and I am sure we will be competitive.
“These are the same players that won the sevens title at the Zimbabwe Tertiary Institutions Sports Union Games and we are hoping they will be able to pick their form from where they left off,” said Burukai.
This will be the second edition of the tourney and tournament director Francorn Mutare said high-level competition is expected as some of the players expected to feature have already been involved in the Under-21 league.
The tournament, which features teams from the country’s universities and colleges, has been designed to capture and nurture the talent that comes through the school system.
Great Zimbabwe University were the inaugural winners last year and have confirmed they want to defend the title.
“We are expecting no less than nine teams on this day of rugby extravaganza. We are also looking forward to high-level competition because most of the players from the Under-21 league that has been taking place in recent weeks were also coming from these institutions.
“The purpose of holding this tournament is to help groom the potential that we have in the tertiary and universities. We have noted that schools rugby in Zimbabwe is very strong but it’s not possible for those guys to just break into the first teams at the country’s top teams. That is where tertiary and university rugby should come in to bridge the gap.
“Usually we have very good players at schools rugby level but once these guys leave school the talent is lost because there is nothing to rekindle interest in the players. Some would choose to go and play abroad while others stop playing rugby at all and concentrate on other career paths.
“Rugby at this level should be a warehouse for the nation’s talents hence the need to take it seriously. So we are hoping to make this an official pre-season tournament for the universities and tertiary colleges while we discuss the possibility of coming up with regional leagues,” said Mutare.