Local rugby action back

HARARE - Starved ardent rugby followers have something to cheer following the re-introduction of the Intercity League, formerly known as the National Rugby League (NRL).

The rebranded and expanded Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) Intercity League is set to kick off on April 15 following its lengthy abruption due to lack of funding in 2014.

At a clubs meeting held on April 1 in Kwekwe, clubs agreed that the league will kick off while discussions for possible partnerships continue.

ZRU was yesterday optimistic that the league will regain its place as a conveyer belt to the country’s national team and will go a long way in reviving the local rugby’s waning fortunes.

“At its peak, the National Rugby League assisted a number of national teams prepare for their various assignments…and also helped the team rise on the World Rugby rankings from 52 at inception of the league to 30 when the league abruptly stopped,” ZRU said in a statement.

“It is in light of these successes that ZRU believe that the reintroduction of the Intercity (NRL) league is important not only for the national teams but the game as a whole.”

The new Intercity League will have 11 teams that will take part in the 2017 season.

The teams include, Mutare Sports Club, Harare Sports Club, Gweru Sports Club, Old Miltonians, Old Hararians, Old Georgians, Old Johannians, Western Panthers, Matabeleland Warriors, Police Defenders and Police Bulldogs.

The teams will play each other twice with the top four teams making it through to the semi-finals and the winners to the finals.

The league will be played over 24 weeks, 22 weeks of round robin and a week of semi-finals and the finals week.

“At the end of the season, there is going to be relegation of the bottom three teams but we are not going to be promoting any team for the 2018 season,” ZRU said, adding: “The 2018 season will have eight teams as we will be aiming at improving the competitiveness of the league going forward.”

The relegated teams will take part in the proposed Intercity Division Two League, a preserve for standalone clubs and this league will be the feeder league for the flagship Intercity League.

All teams that have second teams will take part in their respective provincial development leagues, ZRU said.

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