We've to be realistic: Murambiwa

STELLENBOSCH - Zimbabwe Under-18 rugby coach Godwin Murambiwa feels the expectations thrust on the shoulders of his Junior Sables are unrealistic for a country that is without adequate structures to nurture junior rugby talent.

The Old Mutual-bankrolled side lost all three of their encounters in wet and cool conditions presented by this Western Cape Province.

That effectively stretched their winless streak at the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week tournament to seven matches, dating back to 2013.

And whilst Murambiwa feels Zimbabwe could have done better, having led at half time in their first two encounters, the former Prince Edward School rugby coach wants his side applauded for putting up a fight.

“We had four days to prepare and these guys we are playing against want to make the South African Junior Rugby World Cup team.

“Obviously, the guys who gave me the job make the call (whether I stay or not) but it doesn’t matter who you are, whether you can pull off a miracle (because in the end) if you get four days with the team and you are playing against opponents who are working with conditioning programmes for three, four years. What does one say?” he said.

“This is not me defending myself. This is reality. We have school boys that we are bringing here. They have different pressures. They have exams. So our expectations as supporters and as a nation have to be realistic.

“I was talking to Ian McIntosh who was talking about conditioning programmes in schools. The kids (sic) go to the gym, not only the year they are competing in this tournament, but a year or two before they play.

“But if you want to do that at home, you need clearance from parents, from the ministry of Education — again they are minors. I think when they come here and they don’t embarrass themselves we have to be proud.”

The Zimbabwean teenagers’ travel to South Africa was facilitated by insurance giant Old Mutual. Old Mutual group senior communications consultant Tendai Mutseyekwa says they are into supporting Zimbabwe junior rugby for the long run.

“We are into building a strong base for Zimbabwe rugby. So, it’s not about the results here, we are in it for the long haul and getting Zim back to being a rugby powerhouse,” he said.

Meanwhile, despite being on the losing end of all their matches here in South Africa’s premier wine making region, Zimbabwe’s bright sparks did not go unnoticed with SA universities and rugby academies making enquiries on some of the Zimbabwean players.

Among them was big tackling forward Tinashe Muchena, captain Cuan Zeederbeg, big driving eighthman Aiden Burnett and fly half Benjamin Meredith who all were outstanding in the team’s opening two games.

From last year’s Craven Week side former St John’s lock Eli Snyman and former St George’s College’s Daniel Nyamugama found a home at Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs U-19s respectively.

Last year’s Under-18 captain and former Falcon College tight head prop Stephen Bhasera joined the Golden Lions Under-19 Currie Cup side.

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