Lovemore Zigara in Gweru
AFTER a three-year absence, league rugby returns this weekend under the Inter City Rugby League.
The league is being administered by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) after the National Rugby League (NRL) again failed to secure sponsorship.
In 2014 the NRL was suspended following squabbles, which resulted in Delta Beverages through its Lion Lager brand pulling the plug on its sponsorship.
Despite being unbranded, winners of the Inter City Rugby League will earn the ticket to participate at the South African Gold Cup franchise.
The Gold Cup features top rugby franchises in South Africa, which include the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Toyota Free State Cheetahs, Golden Lions and the Cell C Sharks, among others.
ZRU vice-president Noddy Kanyangara said they expect tough competition when the league kicks off this Easter holiday.
“We are excited to re-introduce the rebranded league under the banner of the Inter City Rugby League because ZRU is running the league, but the structure is basically the same. We have also increased the number of teams to 11 from eight,” said Kanyangarara.
“There will be more excitement this season, which will run until early November where a total of 24 matches will be played on a round robin basis.
“The catch is the club which wins the league will get a chance to play in the Gold Cup in South Africa where they will get the chance to play with top South African rugby franchises,” he said.
He said ZRU had made great strides to create synergies with more developed South African franchises to make local rugby more competitive.
The pick of the weekend will be the clash between Harare Sports Club, who will be at home against Old Georgians, while Old Hararians are up against Old Johanians.
Mutare Sports Club entertain Gweru Sports Club in Mutare, while in Bulawayo the Matabeleland Warriors are up against Police Bulldogs and Old Miltonians will clash with Panthers.