…Minister Mutsvangwa sends solidarity message
MUTARE Sports Club rugby team better known as the Mutare Shumbas will kick off the Mopani 15s tournament against Lusaka today (Saturday).
The annual Mopani 15s Rugby Tournament sponsored by Mopani Copper Mines which comprises of 15 teams from the topflight Zambia National Rugby League started in 2016 and will for the first time host a foreign team.
Mutare which is the only foreign team representing Zimbabwe has been drawn in the tough Pool B with the Zambian League defending champions Arrows, Lusaka and Nchanga. The hosts Diggers Sports Club have been drawn in Pool A with Eagles, Roan and Konkola, whilst Pool C comprises of Mufulira, KPF, Chibuluma, Arrows B, and Pool D has Nkwazi, Ndola, Buffaloes and Kansanshi.
The tournament which kicks off at 9am will see the hosts Diggers first take on Konkola and the Zambian league defending champions take on Nchanga in matches that have been set for 30 minutes full time.
The Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Monica Mutsvangwa that is currently away in Angola for a Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) Parliamentary meeting yesterday sent a message to encourage the team.
“You are the flagship for Manicaland and Zimbabwe at large in Zambia, I wish you well and hope you represent the country well. We want to see Zimbabwean club rugby grow and this is a good start participating in invitational tournaments. The fact that you last participated in one in 1993 is a success story and my Office appreciates your efforts to uphold the sport. I personally made efforts to ensure help cover your transport costs but am currently out of the country. As we look forward to next year we hope to have more synergies but this year hope you win,” said the resident Minister in her solidarity message.
Mutare Sports Club (MSC) and Harare Sports Club (HSC) were the two invitational teams from Zimbabwe invited to participate in the third edition of the one-day tournament being held at Diggers Rugby Club in Nkana West in Kitwe. HSC is however not attending the tournament due to unspecified logistical reasons.
The tournament bankrolled by Mopani Copper Mines started in 2016 and each year draws all the teams in the topflight Zambia National Rugby League.
This will be the first time for the Mutare side to participate in an invitational tournament outside the country since 1993. They last participated in an invitational tournament in Malawi in 1993.
The Shumbas in the incumbent Northern (Harare) Rugby League are currently on fourth place behind Old Georgians, HSC and Old Hararians respectively followed by Alex Sports Club, XP Horns and Police Defenders which trail behind on fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.
Diggers Rugby Club chairman Chileshe Bweupe in his invitation letter said they were excited about hosting the Zimbabwean club this year.
As the hosts, Diggers Rugby Club will provide accommodation and all the meals for the touring squad of 28, including 23 players and five officials.
Mutare Sports Club rugby squad
Jones Quinton Dedza, Blessing Chizaza (vc), Albertt Bertz Gotora, Tinashe Guwa, Hopeful Gunda, Dylan Tee Jerah, Emmanuel Kawadza, Joseph Knight, Dawson Pasirai, Tafara King Manyika, Moss Kapumha, Armson Makumbe, Nigel Marange, James Marimbire, Innocent Matiyashe, Robray Matsanga, Tanaka Mufandauya, Dennis Museredza, Gamuchirai Muskwe, Brendon Thom, Tinotenda Nyawasha, Gideon Muyambo (c), Takunda Tsunga, Chrispen Chigabo.
Cassper Bandi, Mackenzie Munetsi, Walter Njowa, Evelyn Chisingarambwe