Murambiwa expects tough competition at national trials

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ZIMBABWE Under-18 rugby coach Godwin Murambiwa is anticipating some tough competition at the national schools rugby trials to be held at Falcon College this weekend to select the squad to tour South Africa for the annual Coca-Cola Craven Week in July.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

The country’s fledgling schoolboy rugby talent is expected to be paraded at the national trials in Esigodini with some titanic contests expected as players seek to impress national selectors.

In an interview with NewsDay Sport, Murambiwa said the national trials, which this year revert to the traditional selection format, would give every talented player a fair chance to prove their worth.

Unlike last year where different provinces were merged to come up with a team, inter-changing the backline and the forwards several times, this year’s format will see six provincial teams play on an inter-provincial basis.

“We decided to revert to the traditional format because we believe players do well when they are playing alongside teammates they are familiar with and this should give every player an equal opportunity to shine,” Murambiwa said.

“When provincial teams are picked, coaches work on various combinations and team building efforts in preparation for the national selection and it is such values and technical awareness we also need to uphold.

“There is a lot of pride in playing for a province and because of that, we are anticipating some tough competition. One of the rivalries to look out for is the one between the Matabeleland side and the Harare A side because as you will recall, Falcon College has been dominant in the schools league, beating all the Harare sides,” he said.

Provincial trials were held across the country at different venues last weekend where five provincial teams, namely two from Harare and a team each from Matabeleland, Mashonaland Country Districts and the Central Region, were selected.

Selectors will also have a chance to cast their net wider as a developmental squad that was picked from the non-traditional rugby playing schools at the Dairibord Schools Rugby festival is also expected to feature during the trials.

After the conclusion of the trials, the players are expected to hold their first training camp on June 13 ahead of this year’s edition of the Under-18 Craven Week to be held at Paul Roos Gymnasium School in Stellenbosch, South Africa, from July 13 to 18.

Zimbabwe, who will be hoping for better fortunes this year after losing all three matches in 2014, take on Griquas Country Districts in their opening game, while the rest of their fixtures will be determined by their result in the first game.

Financial services giant, Old Mutual is sponsoring Zimbabwe’s Craven Week teams again this year as part of their partnership with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union.

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 from the high-density areas.