The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
KUVA Blue Thunder, Zimbabwe’s first independently owned professional rugby franchise has confirmed its interest in an international competition.
The formation of Kuva Blue Thunder comes soon after Zimbabwe reached the semifinals of the Rugby Africa Cup recently held in France. Kuva Blue Thunder are looking to leverage on the success of the Sables as well as the Cheetahs who qualified for the Sevens Rugby World Cup set for Cape Town, South Africa in September.
Jason Maritz, the Sables team manager is the co-founder of Kuva Blue Thunder.
“Rugby in Zimbabwe has been on an upward trajectory with its National teams, the Sables making it to the semi-finals of the recent Rugby Africa Cup in Marseille, France and the rugby sevens team the Cheetahs qualifying for the World Cup in September.
“There has long been a desire to professionalize the game of rugby in Zimbabwe whilst bridging the gap between its successful high school system, club structures and National teams. This has led to the birth of Kuva Blue Thunder – Zimbabwe’s first independently owned professional rugby franchise that will participate in competitive international rugby union. Kuva Blue Thunder will work closely with all existing stakeholders of the sport in Zimbabwe to ensure a holistic approach is achieved from grassroots to the first XV, drawing in talent from both home and abroad,’’ read a statement.
Kuva Blue Thunder expressed their appreciation to the Zimbabwe Rugby Union for endorsing the quest to make Zimbabwean rugby more competitive.
“We would like to thank the Zimbabwe Rugby Union for its support in endorsing our vision to professionalise the sport in Zimbabwe, and the valuable input we continue to receive from its leadership.”
A number of national unions and potential franchises held a meeting in Cape Town on the 26th to the 30th of June 2022. The conference was held to discuss the establishment of a new franchise competition to be launched in December 2022.
The objective of the new competition is to provide a pathway to the top table of rugby union by enabling more players and franchises in high potential countries to compete regularly with quality opposition, raising the competitiveness of the game overall.
According to the statement, substantial detailed progress was made with all parties agreeing their intention to proceed and to move onto an approval process (including in accordance with Rugby’s regulations) as well as demonstrating their ability to meet eligibility criteria. Further details will be announced over the coming weeks.
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