Hard lessons ZRU should learn

HARARE - The curtain came down on a rather lukewarm Confederation of African Rugby (Car) Sevens Africa Cup hosted at Prince Edward School which had a low turnout.

Hosting this tournament broughtto the fore how Zimbabwe as a nation is still far from staging a continental sporting event with exceptional level of professionalism.

Right from the build-up to the tournament things were chaotic with the media and the public starved of critical information by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) which led to a low turnout despite gate entry fees charged at $2 per head.

The Cheetahs final squad was only released to the media on the eve of the event yet our counterparts, the South African Sevens Academy and Kenya, who brought their second string side Shujaa, announcing their travelling party earlier in the week.

ZRU had also organised a pre-tournament press conference on Friday, a day before the tournament started.

This presser was another shambolically coordinated event that brought the ZRU’s shortcomings to surface.

Apart from starting almost an hour after the advertised 2pm time, the 12 teams’ captains were seated in an unorderly manner which made it difficult for the media to get sounds bites.

Having attended quite a number of sporting events both in Zimbabwe and on the international front, ZRU standards were quite shambolic.

Even the schoolboy Dairibord Rugby Festival which has more teams and media covering the event is able to accredit people on time way before the start.

Another challenge for the media was getting fixtures and team sheets which proved to be a difficult task.

Even an effort to get help from a ZRU official proved futile as they responded in a rude manner, leaving myself and other scribes in the dark.

After finally using my street wit to get a copy of the fixtures, it was frustrating to see that the matches were not running on time.

Going forward the ZRU media department should be hands on and should not sleep on duty.

The same goes for the union’s marketing department. It should be more aggressive when selling such events to public.

The ZRU’s marketing department should take a leaf from their Zimbabwe Cricket counterparts, who have been able to attract large crowds to Harare Sports Club or Queens Sports Club despite the team’s poor performances.

As much as Zimbabwe is currently facing a liquidity crunch, the ZRU should not use it as an excuse to run such a shoddy tournament.

The union must address these shortcomings since the country is going to host Car XVs tournaments for both senior national teams and juniors next year.

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