Innocent Kurira

THE Nedbank Rugby Challenge Cup is set to explode into life on Saturday at Harare Sports Club with tournament director Shaun De Souza saying they expect to host a successful and competitive tournament. 

Eight teams are expected to take part in this year’s edition, which will be held over two weekends, March 16-17 and March 23-24. 

These include traditional heavyweights Old Georgians, Old Hararians, Harare Sports Club, Pitbulls/Harare Select and the Nedbank Under-20 Junior Sables team.

 Matabeleland and Manicaland Select sides will also take part.

The Matabeleland teams will feature players from Old Miltonians, Warriors, Highlanders, Gweru Sports Club, Mimosa and Zvishavane.

The Manicaland team will have players from Mutare Sports Club, Spartans, Africa University, Rusape and Mutare Polytechnic.

The Zimbabwe Under-20 training squad has been divided into two, the Nedbank Under-20 Junior Sables team and a Nedbank High-Performance team.

De Souza will take charge of the Junior Sables team while Marvin Chirume will be in charge of the High-Performance side.

“We are just fine-tuning the last few things and everything is on track for the event. There is huge excitement in the air. 

“Players are excited with the prizes that are there. 

“The teams and players are all excited, which is good for the game and great to see. When players are showing this extra commitment it’s really a great sight,” said De Souza. 

He said the junior Sables squad for the Barthes Trophy in April should be finalised by March 24. 

“From the Under-20 side of things, we are at the stage of finalising the two teams that will play as the Junior Sables squad and the High Performance squad. 

“The High Performance squad is made up largely of players we are developing for next year and a few guys we want to see before the final Barthes Trophy squad announcement on March 24. 

“There is excitement around and we are looking forward to a successful tournament,” said De Souza.

About US$9 000 has been set aside as team and individual prize money. 

The winners of the tournament will walk away with US$4 000 while the second and third-placed teams will get US$2 500 and US$1 250.

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