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Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
A member of the 1995 South African Springboks Rugby World Cup winning squad Marius Hurter arrives in Zimbabwe today for the second edition of the AMG Global Falcon College Under-14 Rugby Coaching Festival which runs from tomorrow and ends on Sunday.
Hurter, a prop during his playing days, earned 13 international caps and is coming with four other South Africans, Investec Rugby Academy general manager, Greg Miller, former KwaZulu-Natal loose forward, Jacques Botes, Nico Le Roux, an ex-technical advisor to New Zealand, and Michael Horak, former defence coach for English Premiership side, London Irish.
Orlando Fernandes, the tournament director, said they were looking forward to welcoming 300 players to this year’s festival, which is double the 140 that made the inaugural event in 2016.
The numbers have been enhanced by the inclusion of three schools’ first teams, Falcon College, Christian Brothers’ College and Lomagundi College.
Fernandes said the three first teams are going on tour and requested to be included in the fiesta so as to get some game time.
Whitestone Junior School of Bulawayo is also taking part in the festival and this pushed organisers to invite Barwick of Mutorashanga. The Under-14 teams that have entered the tournament are Falcon College, Lomagundi College, CBC, Gateway, Northlea, Churchill, Hillcrest, Heritage and Midlands Christian College.
The main bankrollers of the event are AMG Global, a chartered accountant firm, and they expressed delight in being associated with the rugby carnival since it’s being graced by coaches with incredible expertise.
“The festival will be graced by experienced rugby coaches from Investec Rugby Academy’s Greg Miller, Jacques Botes, Michael Horak, Nico Le Roux and Marius Hurter. The above coaches have gained tremendous experience in rugby, which is expected to benefit the schools through coaching, training and competition.
“Furthermore, this coaching clinic is expected to go a long way in developing the skills of the Under-14 rugby players and this will also equip them for playing the game in the long run. AMG Global wish the boys all the best as they participate in this year’s Falcon Under-14 Rugby Festival. We are proud to be associated with Falcon College in this endeavour for the second year running, and we trust that it will be a memorable and life changing experience for the boys,” said a spokesperson for AMG Global.
Falcon College headmaster Reginald Querl feels an Under-14 rugby feast is a step in the right direction since that particular age group is the future of the game.
“The Under-14 Rugby Coaching Festival is something that is long overdue in my humble opinion. This age group is the future of the game in our country. As such, this innovation where young people are offered amazing advice from top internationally acclaimed coaches is just what the doctor ordered. The format of having coaching in the morning, followed by games on the fields in the afternoons with the coaches, has proven to be very successful. The whole concept of having fun while learning the game under controlled conditions is something that we are very proud of at Falcon College,” Querl said.
The youngsters will get coaching from the South Africans in the morning before they engage in matches in the afternoon where each team will play at least one match over the three days. A formal dinner for the coaches, sponsors, officials and parents will take place in Bulawayo on Saturday evening.
Last year, Joe Beukes, Braam van Straaten, Botes and Miller graced the festival.