'Zimbabwe rugby is behind'

HARARE - The gulf in class between Zimbabwean club rugby and that of neighbouring South Africa is pretty big according to Old Georgians’ coach Grant Mitchell.

Mitchell saw firsthand the difference between the two southern African countries operation when he led OGs to their maiden Saru Gold Cup campaign which ended last weekend.

The Zimbabwe champions finished in third place in Pool C with eight points after winning two matches and losing two but their efforts were not enough to guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals.

OGs crashed out of the tournament following their 29-16 defeat against log leaders Siyaya Brakpan at Bosman Stadium in South Africa last weekend.

Brakpan and Direct Axis False Bay are the two teams from Pool C, who qualified for the next round.

“We lost control of the scoreboard through our own skill error. We had a game plan to beat them and it was working unfortunately we struggled to convert the pressure we were applying on them into points,” Mitchell told the Daily News.

“We failed to make the important decisions count in our favour, the final decision of an executed play that went against us due to our own decision making and skill execution. And at this level, when you make an error you lose control of the scoreboard. You will never win games like this.”

OGs won the right to represent the country after winning the local league and the experience gained from the regional competition has been “vital”.

“It has been a journey of exposure, growth and achievement. Every step through this process has been about becoming a better Rugby club and putting Zimbabwe Club Rugby on the regional map and we are grateful for it,” Mitchell said.

“Across the board Zimbabwe Club Rugby is behind. The calibre of teams that we faced comes from an environment of preparation and intensity. If the local league was the same level, make no mistake, Zimbabwe Rugby at national team level would be streets ahead of our current state.

“Our players possess the talent (skill and athletic) but it is the environment in which it needs to be progressed and challenged that lacks significantly. With regards to similarities I would have to say passion — We are all lovers of the game of rugby and find meaning in it and direction from it.”

Mitchell also noted that most of their opponents were bigger in size.

“Our strength and conditioning still needs work. Every team we faced was significantly bigger than us and size does matter in rugby,” he said.

“If we can add size, strength, speed and power to our players we will match teams physically and beat them technically.

“We also need to be better prepared to win the small moments and make more accurate decisions in high pressure moments. That only comes with exposure at this level and we are glad to have learned these faults in our systems.”

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