Thumbs up for schools rugby corporate partners

24 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Thumbs up for schools rugby corporate partners Junior Sables graduates who have enrolled at Wheeling University in the United States.


NATIONAL Under-20 rugby coach, Shaun De Souza has welcomed the coming in of more corporate partners for the schools’ game, which he believes falls in line with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s bid to grow the game around the country.

After a lull in festivals, the schools this year saw the Mwana Group and the Derby Day competitions, which were staged simultaneously at Prince Edward and St John’s College.

Financial institution CBZ have also come with a package for the schools league.

Last week, Croco Motors became the latest in a string of companies, including Hammer and Tongues (St George’s Dragons), who have partnered with some schools rugby teams, when they revealed their sponsorship of the Prince Edward Tigers.

Increased activity in the school game also means a bigger pool of players from which to pick his national team, and De Souza is happy to see more boys being afforded a chance to play the sport.

“Having the Mwana Rugby Festival as the development and grassroots festival and Derby Day as the elite rugby festival is great for the growth of the game in the country.

“They are run separate to each other but are complementary to the national age group structures and, ultimately, all feed into the Zimbabwe Under-20 system,’’ De Souza said.

De Souza also suggested a need to run the festivals on separate dates.

“We hope that we could run the festivals possibly a week apart so they can feed off each other.

“We have noticed the increase of corporate support for these festivals and schools’ rugby in general, I believe it will help the game grow and improve the standard of rugby in the country.

“We can’t thank these organisations enough for their impact on rugby,’’ he said.

De Souza also underscored the importance of more tournaments to the national selectors.

“These festivals are a platform to identify talent.

“We have already started with our player tracking process from the list of players identified at these festivals where we monitor progress and performance during the season and call them up at the end of the year to join the Under-20 High-Performance programme.’’

Despite his Junior Sables surrendering their Barthes Trophy to rivals Kenya when losing 28-13 in the final of the tournament hosted by Zimbabwe, De Souza has received the backing of the ZRU to regroup his charges and mount another challenge next year.

ZRU president Aaron Jani said De Souza was their trusted man in leading the Under-20 side in their quest to reclaim the Barthes Trophy and with it a place at the 2025 World Junior Trophy.

“We were disappointed, we thought and we expected to win but Kenya took it away so our technical team is now looking into our performance, what went wrong, what went right, what do we need to change?

“We have had a very good run in the Barthes and I am sure it is just a few things that need to be tweaked We have a very capable technical team led by Shaun De Souza, which I am sure will be able to rectify and sort some of the areas that we need to improve on but by and large we will be back and we will be back with a bang next year,’’ Jani said.

De Souza felt humbled by the vote of confidence shown in him by the ZRU leadership and also revealed that some of the top players from his Barthes Trophy squad had secured scholarships to universities in the United States.

“I appreciate the kind words and confidence from the ZRU president Mr Jani.

“It’s not been easy the recent run of results is from hard work and commitment from all parties involved my technical team the support from the Ministry (Of Sport, Arts, Recreation, and Culture), SRC, and Mr Jani and his executive team plus the corporates that have supported this program the success stories don’t just lay in the results on the field but also with the opportunities and doors opened for players coming out of the Under-20 junior Sables programme.

“The universities and rugby professional clubs that have welcomed our players and have drawn success from this winning culture is remarkable.

“We hope this continues and build a platform towards the Rugby World Cup 2027.’’

Among those who have secured moves to universities abroad are, Alex Nyamunda, Michael Muleya, Aaaron Juma, Shadreck Manda, Henry Chipfumbu, and Daniel Erasmus.

De Souza also spoke about continuity with the younger members of his Barthes squad who are still eligible to compete at the Under-20 level.

“We are also definitely looking forward to the next chapter of this book . . . we have retained 33 players from this year’s High-performance programme that are eligible for 2025.

“We have set out a strength and conditioning programme that’s complimented by a nutrition guide that the squad will focus on and off the field and we have pencilled in some friendly matches to keep the squad active during the senior rugby club league window.

“With support from our sponsors Pro Fitness Gym, Nutri Active Nedbank Zimbabwe, ETG inputs Kynoch Fertilisers, DFA, Firstlink Insurance, Consha Holdings and the Sables Trust who have pledged to keep on supporting the Junior Sables as we build towards the 2025 Junior World Trophy, we believe we can all achieve our goal,’’ De Souza said.

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