Sables appeal for corporate support

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has made a passionate plea to the corporate world to support the national side, the Sables, who are struggling to secure funding for two end-of-year trips to Namibia and Dubai.

The African champions will take part in an invitational tournament in Namibia next month before proceeding to Dubai in December for another set of games.

Despite their exploits on the continent, where they clinched the African title in Tunisia in June, the Sables have perennially failed to attract meaningful sponsorship, with players and management constantly fighting over measly remuneration and bonuses.

Under the guidance of former national side captain Brendan Dawson, Zimbabwe are unbeaten in seven international matches.

This success has been acknowledged by the International Rugby Board, who invited the Sables to play in an international tournament in Dubai in December, where they will play three tests against Belgium, Mexico and Hong Kong.

This tournament targets up-and-coming nations in the rugby world.

Prior to this trip, they will play in Namibia against the hosts, Spain and South African provincial side Barbarians.

In a statement yesterday, Sables Committee chairperson Bongai Zamchiya said: “We are not ones to pass around a begging bowl but we have to acknowledge the fact that continuation of our sport is threatened without support.

“Furthermore, we are not looking at charity but rather at engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship with Sables’ partners.

“One would think that with the on-field success of the Sables, the corporate Zimbabwe would be seeking to be actively involved in a winning brand; unfortunately that is not the case.

“We have seen the cancellation of the Victoria Cup (this year) and it would be a tragedy for us to cancel these games (in Namibia and Dubai) as well.

“I believe there is a misconception that rugby is a minority sport, instead, it is a growing and very popular sport.

“Last year’s (Victoria Cup) game against Kenya (at Harare Sports Club) had in excess of 6 000 attendees and we were limited by the venue, with more keen to come and watch.

“Furthermore, the centralisation of club games means that large numbers are attending games and the crowds would compete with those of smaller Premier Soccer League teams.

“Finally rugby is a non-racial game that is enjoyed and participated in by people of all races in Zimbabwe.” - SPORTS WRITER

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