Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
BULAWAYO Rugby clubs, Matabeleland Warriors and Old Miltonians are taking on opposition from outside the country’s borders on Saturday as they prepare for the expected return of the Inter City League next month.
Warriors take on Zambian side Red Arrows from Lusaka at Hartsfield Rugby Ground. The Zambian champions are expected in the country tomorrow for Saturday’s fixture prior to finding their way to Harare on Sunday where they will also play practice matches against sides in the capital city.
Theodore Weale, the Warriors team manager indicated that they are well aware that they are playing the Zambian champions and were not expecting a walk in the park. Warriors are coached by former Zimbabwe Sables loose forward Ruben Kumpasa with the assistance of Cheetahs mentor Gilbert Nyamutsamba.
“It’s our first fifteens game of the year, the players have been training, we want to see if there is a gel between the youngsters and old players. We want to get as much as possible out of this game, we want to attract a lot of players who are not sure if rugby is still alive in Bulawayo, it’s been a number of years since we had a team from outside the country coming to Bulawayo for pre-season,’’ said Weale.
Some of the noteworthy players at Warriors are Irvine Nduwa, Sandile Lupuwana, Lloyd Machanjaira, Cleopas Makotose, Hardlife Masunda and Jafet Ndebele.
On the same day, OMs meet Canon Jaguars at Livingstone Kolobeng College in Gaborone. Under the mentorship of Sables great Zvivanai Dzinomurumbi, OMs have been boosted by the return of backline player Andrea Banda from Warriors, forward Mandisa Masuku who is on industrial attachment from Great Zimbabwe University, flyhalf Mzwandile Maoche who has finished his studies in South Africa. They should combine well with Jason Mackay, Michael Zvakavapano and Thabani Sakupwanya.
OMs and Warriors, previously Matabeleland Busters have over the years contributed a number of players to both the national fifteens and sevens teams.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union have put in plans to re-introduce the Inter City League to bring competitiveness to the local game with plans for the season to start in March. The country last had a National Rugby League in 2014 which ended with only nine rounds of fixtures being fulfilled. Teams from Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Mutare and Zvishavane were part of the NRL.