The Herald (Harare)

13 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Tough Competition At Sevens Rugby Trials

FORMER Cheetahs and Sables scrumhalf Donald Mangenje -- who is also part of the Cheetahs selection panel -- believes they are going to witness higher competitiveness at the Sevens rugby trials this weekend.

The second leg of the selection process will be held in Gweru on Saturday where teams from the Southern Region will battle it out not only for winning the regional tournament but for places in the national teams.

"I am expecting a higher standard compared to what we witnessed in Harare last weekend because there are a lot of Cheetahs players that are based in the Southern Region and the teams there have been training for quite sometime now," said Mangenje.

Some of the Cheetahs and top class players who will turn out for Bulawayo sides include Wesley Mbanje, Kilvan Magunje, Japhet Ndebele, Lucky Sithole and Cleopas Makotose, who moved from Harare Sports Club to Matland Warriors a few weeks ago.

The first leg of the Summer Series was held in Harare last weekend where giants Old Georgians and bitter rivals Harare Sports Club dominated the squad with a combined total of 27 players.

This means that the remaining nine players came from the remaining eight clubs as Mutare Sports Club chipped in with one player in the form of Kudzai Kwenda while Airforce failed to pitch up for the season-opener.

Cheetahs coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba was not available to watch the games and the selection panel made up of Mangenje, Cheetahs team manager Bruce Hobson, John Ewing and convener Rick Kershaw picked the squad.

However, Mangenje feels the fact that Sports Club and Old Georgians dominated the squad selection is a reflection of which clubs are dominating and taking the game more seriously in the country.

"It was a very good tournament especially with the displays from Old Georgians and Sports Club who played well and showed that they really have the coaches equipped for that level of the game.

"That some players managed to get to a level good enough to be picked for the Northern Region squads is wonderful because they showed potential and mixed with more experienced players, they could turn out to be gems.

"But it being the first tournament of the year, we could tell who has been training or not and the fitness levels had an impact on the competitiveness of the tournament especially when the big teams took on the so-called small teams. If we are to be factual, we chose the best and the dominance by Sports Club and OG's is a reflection of how they played and that is why they made it into the final of the competition," said Mangenje.

This edition of the Spar Summer Series is being used to select squads that will represent the nation at the Spar Zimbabwe international tournament with teams coming from all corners of the country of the first time in a long time.

Previously, the tournament only involved teams from Harare with Mutare coming in as the only team from outside the capital, but the format has been changed to include teams from Masvingo, Midlands and Bulawayo for a more transparent selection process.

And as a result, the series is not going to see any club emerging as a winner because the second week of action solely belongs to the Southern Region teams while the other two weeks will be used to select the final teams -- both for the Cheetahs and the developmental side the Goshawks.

From each of the region will come about two teams, giving a total of four teams for the final two weekends of selection where the players are going to be picked in a certain order for the Probables against Possibles game in the final leg.

The last two tournaments will be played at Harare Sports Club on February 23 with the final leg also scheduled to staged at the same venue a week later.

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