The Old Mutual Rugby Development Program will host the national finals this Saturday (23 September 2017) at Innovate Gym next to the newly refurbished Old Mutual Head Office. The event which is free, will run from 8am to 1pm.
Each year the build up to National trials starts with 10 tournaments at community level and 5 at Intercommunity, with the best 22 players being selected at each tournament to represent their community at the following stage. On Saturday, the best 500 players from 5 Provinces battling out for honors are Matebeleland, Mash East (Chitungwiza), Mash West (Kadoma), Manicaland and Harare.
Teams will participate in the U14 boys, U16 boys, U18 boys and U18 girls’ categories. Last years’ overall winners were Mash East in the boys’ category and Harare for the girls’ category.
The Old Mutual Rugby Development program now has over 6,500 boys and girls who are being coached and playing rugby for 10 months (January to October) across the country. This means that teenager’s in the program are actively learning rugby for the same period as those in New Zealand, South Africa and England. The program which has been ongoing for 5 years now, produces an estimated 2000 graduates that feed into various systems each year.
Direct and indirect results of Old Mutual’s investment in rugby are the formations of: the Inter City League, U21s League, the rebirth of the University League, Women’s rugby League, Rugby National Youth Games, Academy League, Touch Rugby League and Tag Rugby for seniors.
Opportunities for participants keep increasing each year as more boys and girls are being offered sporting bursaires to top 10 rugby schools in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Referees Association has also started identifying teenagers who have a good understanding of the game to take up officating.
Former Zimbabwe U20 Captain Marco Mama who plays for Aviva Premiership team, Worcester Warriors, has donated valuable rugby related souvenirs to hand out to participants. These include Worcester Warriors playing and training kit, Bristol RFC, British and Irish Lions playing kit and England national team training kit and jerseys belonging to World Rugby stars like Ben Te’o who was in action for the British and Irish Lions team againt the All Blacks.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Old Mutual who have sponsored Rhino Rugby equipment for national age group rugby teams and junior development teams. The equipment will ensure Zimbabwean boys and girls are using the latest safety rugby equipment to enhance their talents. The Rhino team recently delivered the training equipment to the ZRU CEO and Director of Rugby.