Zim junior rugby in decline

HARARE - The current tour to Zimbabwe by the England Independent Schools rugby side has raised more questions rather than answers on how junior rugby in this country seems to be weakening with each passing year.

The last time the British side toured in 2011, all four games were closely-contested affairs and the Lambs were given a good run for their money. Our youth rugby seemed to be in a healthy state,   with the national Under-19 team qualifying for another IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament.

With Zimbabwe having missed out on the last two editions of the IRB World Rugby Trophy, the Lambs have further exposed our frailties.  Our junior rugby, once a source of great pride for the Zimbabwean rugby community, is on the decline.

One of the reasons for that, perhaps, is the way we seem to have abandoned our traditional Zimbabwean style of rugby.

But nature Zimbabwean rugby players are smaller compared to the other nations, but our strength has been the abundance of quick, skilful players.

As a nation we are better suited to a running game and playing wide.  Against the touring British schoolboys, our teams have tended to play against their strengths. They have tried to be physical at contact point against players twice their size. Of course, you are bound to come second best.

Pound for pound it has been a mis-match. Teams have been guilty of committing a lot of men at the ruck when the ball is not theirs and in situations where they are not in a position to win the ball.

This has left the locals vulnerable in defence several times, resulting in a lot of overlaps for the Lambs. 

Some of the Zimbabwean sides have also failed to defend the area around the ruck, which has been exploited by the Independent Schools’ pack of forwards. 

The Lambs have been rampant in their first three games. They made light work of Mbare Academy, thrashing them 76-0. They outclassed Prince Edward 26-6 and on Wednesday they taught the Under-19 second string side, the Goshawks, a rugby lesson with an 81-15 rout.

The tourist will be looking to end their tour on high this afternoon when they face Presidents XV, which is basically the main Under-19 side.

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