Churchill In Danger Of Losing Super 12 Berth

Goodwill Zunidza

Churchill Bulldogs are in danger of forfeiting their glamorous berth in the Zimbabwe Schools Super 12 Rugby League following continued reports of unruly behavior by both their players and coaches in this year’s recently-ended championship.

In the latest incident, Bulldogs coach Geoff Madhake – who has since been ex-communicated by the league – is accused of abusing match officials at the conclusion of a tense league match in July that his team lost to as yet unspecified opponents in Harare.

The stormy bust-up, coming on the back of similar incidences involving the school, led to the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Society withdrawing umpires for Churchill’s last league matches of the season, which were resultantly not played.

The Eastlea-housed institution, one of the strongest teams in the country’s most competitive schools sports competition, have had issues in the past with rival teams alleging they were fielding over-aged players.

Three matches were cancelled during the course of 2016 season as some teams did not travel to fulfill fixtures. While the coast was eventually cleared for Churchill to participate in this year’s championship, the school still faced disciplinary complaints.

A livid Reg Querl, the league’s administrator, spoke in no uncertain terms as he referred coach Madhake’s misconduct to the Schools Disciplinary Committee, damning the Bulldogs’ actions as “intolerable”.

Querl, who is the headmaster of Falcon College, said there should be no leniency on the part of the disciplinary committee.

“It sounds like more than simple verbal abuse,’’ Querl sneered, reacting to the allegations against Madhake.

“Serious action needs to be taken against the individual and the school for bringing Schools Rugby into disrepute. We cannot continue like this with Churchill and it adds weight unfortunately to the stance that some schools have, in not wanting to play against them.”

He added: “This is very unfortunate for rugby and for the school as a whole.”

Paul Kaunda, the Churchill director of sports, said he was still waiting for a briefing from the school headmaster on what would transpire.

‘I did not receive any formal communication on the matter,’’ he claimed.

“I will check with the head and then chart the way forward.”

The league already made its intentions clear when they instructed the ZRRS not to allocate any referees for Churchill’s final fixtures before the second term closed.

“My immediate sanction would be that no Board referees should be assigned to Churchill for the remaining matches this season . . .or if you (ZRRS) do, that this man should not be present in the ground,’’ wrote Querl, in his highly-charged letter to the referees supreme body, and copied to the Zimbabwe Rugby Union, Churchill headmaster and the league’s Harare office at St John’s College.

Incidentally, one of the matches affected was a grudge encounter against Prince Edward Tigers, who defeated Churchill twice in the season. PE sports director Tawanda Jimu said the Tigers had been willing to take on the Bulldogs.

“We honoured the game. But there had been no referee appointed so how do we play?” Jimu asked.

They might never play at again, so far as the Super 12 championship goes, if the league carries through its threat.

“Going forward, from a schools perspective, into next season,” Querl warned, “I will ask for recommendations from the Schools Disciplinary Committee and relay these to you. This is totally unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

In addition to Churchill, the elite league involves St George’s, St John’s, Lomagundi, Kyle College, Peterhouse, Christian Brothers College, Watershed, Midlands Christian College, Eaglesvale, Falcon College and Prince Edward School.

 

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