Zimbo Under-20 Cup gets underway

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THE third edition of the Zimbo Under-20 Rugby Cup gets underway today at the Hartsfield Rugby Ground as Bulawayo-based teams battle it out for this year’s title, to mark the beginning of the 2013 season.

REPORT BY VITALIS MOYO SPORTS REPORTER

The competition runs for three weeks with the finals scheduled for January 26. It will used to select the Bulawayo Under-20 provincial side that will tour South Africa.

The tour will follow the Springboks Legends match against Zimbabwean counterparts in Bulawayo as Matabeleland Rugby Football Board (MRFB) celebrates Hartsfield Rugby Ground’s 75 years of existence on March 9.

Holders Busters will be looking to complete a treble if they successfully defend their title this year when they compete with Old Miltonians, Western Panthers and Bulldogs. MRFB vice-chairman Sean Robinson said all was set for the competition.

“Preparations went right and everything is ready for the games to start. The teams will be playing all their games on Field B which is being marked today (yesterday). Field A will not be used as it is being nursed for the Springboks-Zimbabwe Legends game that will be played on March 9,” Robinson said. The Bulawayo Under-20 side that will be selected from the competition is set play two international matches against Botswana, which will be a curtain raiser to the Springbok Legends-Zimbabwe tie and another against South African side Germiston Rugby Club, with dates yet to be confirmed.

The side will also play against local Under-20 provincial sides Midlands and Mashonaland on February 9 and 23 respectively.

“The main aim for holding this tournament is to bridge the gap between schoolboy rugby and senior rugby. Our schoolboy rugby is more competitive than that for the seniors. We therefore want to retain those young upcoming players as they mature into seniors,” Robinson said.

Busters, Western Panthers and Old Miltonians are the Bulawayo clubs that are part of the National Rugby League and will be using this competition as a platform to prepare for the league as well as keeping their players fit.

Old Miltonians lost out in last year’s title race after they had points deducted for fielding older players.

Western Panthers open the competition against Bulldogs at 2pm while the main match will be at 4pm when Old Miltonians clash with Busters in what promises to be a mouth-watering encounter.

The conclusion of the Zimbo Cup will pave way for the Under-21 competition where the same four clubs will play against each other using the same format as the Under-20s, from February 9-23.

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