Cottco Schools Rugby Festival roars into life

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The country’s premier schoolboy rugby tournament, the Cottco Schools Rugby Festival, kicks off on Monday with a staggering 37 matches lined up at Prince Edward Schools’ four rugby fields Jubilee, Avenues, Rhodes and Chapel.

The rugby fiesta which showcases the cream in schoolboy rugby will take place until Saturday and will also play host to junior teams from Zambia, Botswana, Kenya and Nigeria who were expected to arrive in the country on Sunday.

As has been the norm over the years, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays have been reserved for schools which traditionally do not play rugby.

However, it will not affect performance on the field of play as all schools rugby players, regardless of which schools they come from, have used this tournament as an opportunity to shine and prove their mettle.

Action will start as early as 8am this morning with Tynwald clashing with Goldridge, which will be followed up by a clash between Mount Pleasant and debutants Hippo Valley at Jubilee Field.
The same venue will witness Mutare Boys’ High lock horns with St George’s College’s 2nd team at 2pm, before St John’s Chikwaka clash with Sobukazi and hour later.

The day will also witness the first-ever clash between schoolgirl teams when Tafara 1 Girls plays Girls’ High School at lunchtime before Roosevelt Girls lock horns with Eaglesvale 30 minutes later, also at Jubilee .

Across field at Avenues SOS Children’s Village will make their debut at the festival with a tricky tie against Visitation, while the other stand-out tie will be between fallen giants Ellis Robins and Chaplin.

The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe is sponsoring the festival for the 13th year running and this year’s tournament is running under the theme: “New in time, New in Kind”.

The festival has drawn huge crowds every year, it’s likely to be the same case again this year as it has established itself as a major event in the region.

Under the current sponsorship package, the event is meant to promote the game in rural and urban high-density schools, which is the reason why there is no overall winner after the five days and why it is not played on a knockout basis.

The organisers have made an effort to match schools of similar strength and ability and awards have been designated to promote this aim.

Some of the awards that are handed out to participants after the festival are, the most disciplined side, most improved side, side exhibiting most flair, and a the player of the tournament for both the forwards and backs.

New award categories have been introduced this year for the referee, coach and volunteer of the tournament.

The long-standing rivalry that exists between powerhouses Prince Edward, Falcon College, Churchill, Peterhouse, St John’s College and St George’s is set to be reignited. St John’s intensified preparations for the tourney with a tour to the St John’s Easter Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently and will play Plumtree in one of tomorrow’ main matches.