Strong getting stronger, weak getting weaker

HARARE - The DAIRIBORD Schools Rugby Festival ended on Saturday on a rather low key note as the majority of the games were mis-matches, especially the ones pitting boys schools against their co-educational counterparts.

The festival once again proved that the gap between the so-called Super Eight schools themselves is still huge.

Take for instance a match between Prince Edward and Peterhouse, or Churchill versus St George’s. Those games really should provide tougher contests than was the case on Saturday.

In addition to that, most of the second-tier schools did not trouble the scorers in their games against top teams.

Only Eaglesvale, outside the top-tier clique, have shown they are ready to gate-crash the big boys party as they punched above their weight all week and went on a giant-killing spree.

They beat beat Churchill 17-10 and St John’s College 21-14.

There must be something good they are doing at Vale. One of it is coach Cyprian Mandenge, the highly-rated tactician who is also the Old Hararians gaffer and Zimbabwe assistant coach.

Mandenge’s team was rightly named the team that exhibited the most flair at Under-19 level. Their skipper, eighthman Newton Tanyanyiwa, was voted forward of the tournament for his exploits.

If Eaglesvale can keep level heads, they are likely to steamroll past every team in the co-ed schools league this season. They got too much arsenal in their tank. Maybe Hellenic or Midlands Christian College are the only teams that can give them a run for their money in that division.

Meanwhile, Prince Edward centre Tatenda Matoramusha was named the best backline player of the tournament. The red-hot Matorausha was absolutely magnificent throughout the tournament with serious gas and prolific finishing.

Heading into the season in the first tier league, the two front runners are Falcon College and PE. These two sides have had a rich vein of form in the pre-season.

Falcon had a highly successful tour of South Africa at the St Dustan College Easter Festival, were they won two out of their three games. The Eisigodini-based side beat highly-rated Bradwag School 21-19 and their match was voted the match of the festival.

PE registered four wins out of their five games on tour in Namibia.

These two teams have managed to maintain momentum thus far, playing fast pace rugby, maintaining structure to their game plans while expressing themselves marvellously.

Tigers coach Robbie Du Rand was however quick to play down his team’s prospects of dominating the season.

“It’s early days, our main aim right now is to stick to our coaching structure and strategies. Concentrate one game at time,” said the former Sables lock.

Overall, the 2014 edition’s ratings slightly dropped compared to last year.

Going forward, organisers need to re-engage South Africa powerhouses in the form of Glenwood, Pretoria Boys High and Dale College, who used to grace this tournament in the past.

This will expose local players to quality opposition, and for the ever-loyal crowds, more exciting and closely-fought contests. 

All due respect, we do not gain anything from teams from Botswana. Their number one ranked side, LKC, was taken to the cleaners by a third-string Allan Wilson side.

Yes, we do have an obligation towards our neighbours, especially as a stronger rugby-playing neighbour. And besides, this is a Festival.

But special slots during the event should be reserved for such sides to make sure that strength is pitted against strength on the main days.

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