By Mutsa Sibanda
Gateway High School sports director Malvern Chirume has been appointed by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union as the new coach for the Old Mutual Junior Sables Under-17 team that will participate at the Craven Week festival in South Africa next week.
The Zimbabwe Under-17 and Under-14 sides are bound for South Africa this weekend for the Grant Khomo Youth Festival which runs in Bloemfontein from July 10 to 14 next week.
A send-off reception was held for the two teams at Gateway High School on Thursday evening and the entire rugby fraternity including sponsors congregated to wish them well in their voyage.
Chirume was appointed as coach after St George’s coach Doug Trivella stepped down, citing pressing commitments back at home.
The team ended up camped at Gateway for their preparations. His assistant is Mark Wilson while Hillcrest College coach Chris Mhike is the team manager.
It is a remarkable rise for Chirume, the former Prince Edward sports master who joined Gateway last year after a stint as the head rugby coach at Midlands Christian College in Gweru.
Gordon Pangeti, who is the sports director at Heritage College, remains the Zimbabwe Under-14 head coach assisted by Tan Dinhidza.
The national Under-14 team was also camped at Heritage for their practice sessions and accommodation.
Zimbabwe U18 rugby players ahead of departure for SA
Both the Gateway and Heritage coaches could however not inspire their own boys during the trials as the two national teams ended up being dominated by pupils from St John’s College (Borrowdale) and Falcon ColIege.
Meanwhile, ZRU CEO Blessing Chiutare wished the boys well at the festival.
“You guys are just starting out in your careers and you have not played enough rugby yet. As you go to SA and put on that striped (green and white) jersey know you are doing it for your parents, coaches, schoolmates and more importantly for your teammates.
“You are carrying the hopes of 14 million Zimbabweans. You do not want to be outdone by the girls who have won (all) of their matches at the Under-18 Girls Youth Week in Welcom. Go out there and come back with results. On behalf of ZRU I say victory is all we ask from you,” implored Chiutare.
The Zimbabwe Under-18 girls team, known as the Junior Pangolins, won their total three fixtures at the tournament in South Africa last week, beating Griquas 39-5, Blue Bulls 5-0 and Boland 20-15.
Men’s team manager Chris Mhike said the Under-14 boys team would leave on Friday morning in readiness for a friendly international fixture against Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, the same day that the Under-18s depart Harare direct for Bloemfontein.
Both teams get their festival fixtures underway on Monday at Grey College in the Free State capital.