Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) vice-president Martin Shone says lack of sponsorship has derailed revival of the vital National Rugby League (NRL).
The NRL ended prematurely in the past due to financial constraints and Shone said the new ZRU executive led by former national team player Aaron Jani was working flat out to secure sponsorship for the league.
“As an executive the formation of a national league is part of our plans. We have set our sights on reviving that league as it will attract more competition to the game. At the moment there is no sponsor for the league hence we are forced to stick to regional leagues,” said Shone.
He said transporting teams for games was the biggest challenge but hoped to secure corporate support soon.
“A national league plays a pivotal role in the growth and development of the game in the country and we must have one soon,” said Shone.
He said the NRL would enhance competition among clubs and also produce quality players for national teams.
For now, Shone said their main priority was to ensure that the Sables qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The Sables are seeking to end a 27-year wait to return to the World Cup stage and will begin their campaign with a home clash against Morocco on June 16.
Sables’ coach Peter de Villiers got an opportunity to look at players for the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers when the national team held a training camp at Falcon College in Esigodini last week.
The team is scheduled to tour South Africa from May 20-31 to play against yet to be named opponents.
The Sables are preparing for the Rugby Africa Gold Cup which runs from June to August. Zimbabwe will play against Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia, Uganda and Namibia.
The country that tops the six-team log will automatically qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup while runners-up also stand a chance to head to Japan via the repêchage.
The Sables’ road to the World Cup got a major boost when local mining company Zerttew Resources poured in $1 million to become the national team’s headline sponsor.
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