OLD Mutual Zimbabwe have expressed their satisfaction with their partnership with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU).
The integrated financial services group invested $90 000 towards schools rugby for the 2014 season, bankrolling the national Under-13s, 16s and the Under-18 sides’ national trials and participation at the annual Craven Week tournaments in South Africa.
The sponsorship also includes the Old Mutual High Density Schools Rugby Development Programme which is aimed at helping to bridge the gap between established and upcoming rugby playing schools.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport, Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s group marketing executive, Lillian Mbayiwa said: “We are happy with both the Old Mutual High Density Schools Rugby Development Programme as well as our sponsorship of the provincial and national selection process that culminates in the Old Mutual Junior Sables participation in the Craven Week Rugby Tournament in South Africa for the U14, U17 and U19 age groups.”
“Participation in the Craven Week Tournaments was a good experience for both players and coaches, as well as for parents who managed to travel with the teams.”
While the national Under-18 side failed to register a single win at the Craven Week tournament in Middelburg, the Under-13s and Under-16 performed well at the Under-13 Craven Week and the Grant Khomo Week respectively.
“The teams gave good performances, considering that they were playing against sides that had more game time together. The traditional schools rugby season is three months in Zimbabwe, compared to eight months is South Africa,” she said.
“We are satisfied that all three teams successfully embarked on their respective tours and it is now up to the coaches and the Zimbabwe Rugby Union to review the tours and take the necessary action for the benefit of schools rugby in Zimbabwe,” Mbayiwa added.
Shifting her focus to the Old Mutual High Density Schools Rugby Development Programme, which continues with the last two rounds of Old Mutual Inter-Community Cup Mbayiwa, said they were confident the programme would start bearing fruit.
“Our mandate as a business is to help people realise their goals. Rugby is a very popular sport in Zimbabwe schools and the interest transcends social boundaries.”
“Unfortunately, many who aspire to play rugby cannot pursue their dreams due the costs involved. That is why Old Mutual saw it necessary to sponsor the development of the sport in high-density areas, initially covering 36 schools in Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza.
This is an eight-months-long programme that will gradually see the narrowing of the gap between traditional rugby schools and their colleagues in high-density areas. Ultimately, the winner will be Zimbabwe rugby, as this will widen the pool of players to select from for the respective national sides,” Mbayiwa said.
Forthcoming Old Mutual Inter-Community Cup Fixtures
Tomorrow: Hartsfield, Bulawayo
Saturday: Mabvuku, Harare