Sports / Rugby
Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers go to Zimbabwe
21 Jan 2017 at 11:11hrs | Views
MORE than 30 former and current Springbok talents will be on show next Saturday when Zimbabwe host top South Africa franchises for the DHL Super Rugby Weekend at the National Sports Stadium.
The event, now in its second year, will feature the 2016 Currie Cup champions Toyota Cheetahs, the Vodacom Bulls, the Emirates Lions and the DHL Stormers.
The four franchises have since confirmed their participation and as they look to use the tour as part of their pre-season preparations ahead the South Africa Super Rugby season.
Following the success of last year's event which featured Vodacom Blue Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs, Zimbabwean sport enthusiasts should brace for another weekend of high quality rugby at the giant stadium.
The teams got a welcome reception from an appreciative crowd of about 18 000 people who braved the bad weather to witness the titanic clash which was won by Cheetahs 28-10.
Event organisers Kyros Sport Management are anticipating a bigger crowd this year.
One of the directors of the sports management company Nyasha Muchochomi said they are also targeting the traditionally non-rugby fan base.
Muchochomi, however, said they will be praying for a change in the weather trends following weeks of wet conditions.
"We had two franchises when we started this last year and I am sure they were happy with the tour and now we have double the number of teams coming and we can only brace for an entertaining weekend of rugby.
"Mind you there are going to be 30 to 35 former and current Springbok players in the touring sides. Unfortunately it took a bit of time to get the confirmations but we are expecting a big turnout nonetheless.
"We have an exciting menu of rugby games and some entertainment for the day. I must say we have also received good responses from the corporate world.
"We want rugby to be part of our sporting culture so we are targeting school children, the usual rugby enthusiasts and the non-rugby people as well.
"Probably our main worry could be the unpredictable weather conditions. But we have been checking the forecasts and it looks like we might have a good day with 40 percent chances of precipitation.
"But most of these Super Rugby games in South Africa are played in such weather conditions and they still attract crowds," said Muchochnomi.
The curtain raisers will feature Prince Edward Tigers against Kyle College Vikings on 10AM with the second being a contest between Mutare and XP Horns.
Then at 1PM Bulls will face South Africa overall Conference Winners Emirate Lions in what is expected to be an interesting clash.
The main match of the day will feature the Toyota Cheetahs against DHL Stormers at 3PM. The teams are expected to arrive in the country next Thursday.
During the tour, the teams are also expected to conduct coaching clinics in Chitungwiza, Mbare, Churchill and Heritage schools.
The players will also have sessions to meet rugby enthusiast in the city before they proceed to one of Zimbabwe's prime holiday destinations, the Victoria Falls, for bonding and team building.
Muchochomi said they have been working round the clock in partnership with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation and the Rugby Union in the initiative which they hope will ultimately contribute in a big way towards the promotion of sports tourism in the country.
"This is another way to keep Zimbabwe on the map. We believe it's a good initiative towards sport tourism and it will also make it easier for us when we bid to host some of the big rugby events," he said.
The touring sides have taken their pre-season preparations full swing and have indicated they will bring their best players to Zimbabwe.
The DHL Stormers, who have announced a training squad of 50 players, have made some key changes to the way they train ahead of the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Stormers have signed five new players to boost the senior squad ahead of the 2017 season
Hooker Ramone Samuels, loose forwards Johan du Toit and Stefan de Wit, fullback SP Marais and utility back Dan Kriel have all signed contracts to ply their trade at DHL Newlands.
Samuels and openside flank De Wit join from the Xerox Golden Lions, Du Toit joins his brother Pieter-Steph in the Cape after a spell with the Cell C Sharks, whilst Kriel and Marais come from the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Hooker Scarra Ntubeni (Achilles), wing Leolin Zas (leg) and flank Steph de Wit (broken ankle) are the only three players in the 50-man wider training group that are currently sidelined with significant injuries.
Source - chronicle