ZIMBABWE Rugby Union have hailed the culture of foreign-based Zimbabweans to support their national teams and insisted that the gesture extended to the Cheetahs by the Hong Kong community was not a sign that Gilbert Nyamutsamba and his men had been reduced to beggars at the ongoing World series tournament. The Cheetahs are in Hong Kong where their bid for qualification for the world Series took a knock after suffering defeats to Tonga and Hong Kong in their opening pool games.
Tonga handed the Cheetahs a 29-12 defeat before the Southern African team lost to Hong Kong. The two defeats left them lying third in Pool E with two points and four behind leaders Hong Kong and Tonga who both have six points. Philippines anchor the standings after also suffering heavy defeats to Tonga and Hong Kong. Earlier in the week the Cheetahs were hosted by the Hong Kong community which includes some Zimbabweans based in that country who had mobilised some funds and boots which were donated to Nyamutsamba and his men.
But some sections of the local game interpreted that to mean that the ZRU had literally abandoned the Cheetahs and left them to go to Hong Kong to beg for everything including their meals and accommodation.
ZRU president Arron Jani and his leadership which also includes Martin Shone and Losson Mtongwiza also joined the Cheetahs in Hong Kong early yesterday morning.
The union, also spoke on the Cheetahs situation through a statement they issued yesterday.
“Following reports this week on the Zambezi Cheetahs we believe we should assist with giving additional information regarding the team’s affairs at the Hong Kong Sevens.
“The Cheetahs were invited in 2007 and have taken part in the tournament since, the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament is the best funded tournament that the Cheetahs take part in.
“Flights, all the meals, refreshments, all the transfers and accommodation is catered for, has been and still is world standard.
“Our boys have stayed at some of the best hotels in Hong Kong and the ZRU caters for medical cover and whenever possible allowances. “Being an amateur sport in Zimbabwe, boots are and have always been a personal item which is funded personally, in some occasions as with all sports players attract individual sponsors as they did at the world cup in San Francisco last year where Mizuno sponsored the players.
“Individuals such as Tendai “Beast’’ Mtawarira have also made individual donations of boots etcetera and we are grateful for their generosity. “The Hong Kong community of fans has always held fundraisers for the team, it is the culture of foreign based Zimbabwean fans in any sport to support their players in the ways they relate to them — this has been a gesture of adoration more than anything else,’’ the ZRU said.
“As a union we face the challenge of access to foreign currency for our travelling teams as the availability of it, in the timelines we need it is a hurdles we always have to jump — one which the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe has sometimes aided us when we needed it’’.
Meanwhile the much awaited Super 6 league gets underway this afternoon, starting a 12-week marathon that will culminate in the cup final on August 24.
The league will run concurrently with the Harare Province League which features men’s Division One and Two leagues as well as the Women’s League — both divisions are the lower tier promotional competitions comprising of nine teams in each.
At least 35 matches will take place during the 12 weeks of the Super 6 action with two breaks slotted in between to allow for the Sables’ participation in the SuperSport Challenge from May 4 to June 16 and in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup from July 6- 13. Herald