Junior Sables Kicked Out Of Craven Week

ZIMBABWE have paid the price for an appalling display at the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week as the Junior Sables will not be part of an overhauled competition next year.

The South African Rugby Union announced on Thursday that Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eastern Province Country Districts and Border Country Districts will only play in the Coca-Cola Academy Week and no longer field Under-18 Craven Week teams. Instead, Saru said in a fresh introduction to the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions and Western Province will field invitational sides in addition to their regular Coca-Cola Craven Week teams.

Next year, the Under-18 Craven Week and Under-18 Academy Week will be held at Paarl Boys High in the Western Cape from 8 to 14 July, in celebration of the school's 150th anniversary.  

Saru chief executive officer Jurie Roux explained that the makeover has been necessitated by the need to bring competiveness to the Youth Weeks.

 "Two of the main objectives of the SA Rugby Youth Weeks are to create a platform for the players to test their skills and develop as players against the best possible opponents, and the best way to achieve that is by ensuring that all the matches are competitive,’’ Roux said.

He is convinced that the modification will be beneficial to the teams taking part in both tournaments and add to more enthusiasm.

"We believe these changes will benefit the participating players and teams in both competitions, and contribute to a more exciting product for the spectators alike,’’ he said.

Zimbabwe Rugby Union chief executive officer Blessing Chiutare said they have not yet gotten any communication from Saru. Chiutare indicated that if there is no contact from Saru, ZRU will take the initiative to communicate and find out the exact position.

“We have not received any communication from Saru saying that we are no longer part of the Under-18 Craven Week. Usually they do communicate with us so we are waiting for 48 hours then we get in touch them,’’ said Chiutare.

Zimbabwe have taken part in the Craven Week since 1964 but there were years during which they did not participate. The country sent boys continuously to the premier junior rugby competition in South Africa since 1980.

In 12 matches played at the Craven Week from 2014 to 2017, the Junior Sables have recorded just one victory, the 16-9 triumph over Griquas Country Districts in Durban in 2016. They lost all the three matches they played at the Craven Week in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

The country added an Academy Week team from at this year’s competition which fared better with one win and two loses.

Being booted out of the Craven Week is yet another setback for Zimbabwean rugby as the Sables last month lost their slot at the Hong Kong Four Nations tournament which takes place in November every year due to poor results.

In what has been a disastrous year Just last Sunday, the national sevens rugby side lost 14-12 to Zambia in the Zambia International Sevens tournament held in Lusaka. Just a few years ago, a third string Zimbabwe side used to beat Zambia.

The Sports and Recreation Commission last month suspended the Nyararai Sibanda led Zimbabwe Rugby Union board pending an investigating into troubles which caused it to fail to carry out its mandate. An interim structure headed by former Sables player Russell Karimazondo was appointed at the end of August.  


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