Zimbabwe Rugby Academy hoping for turn of fortune

Riaan ONeil tries to find space in the middle of the park in the weekend encounter between Zimbabwe Rugby Academy and Western Province.

picture: withers and son photography

The thrill of the venue never dissipates, but one does become accustomed to the thrill of running up that steep tunnel onto the pitch.

The visitors absorbed this atmosphere in the build up to and during the contest, yet it remained a special occasion for the team. There were physical adjustments to be made, in scrumming for instance.

The turf requires some adaptation and the Zimbabweans found themselves being pushed around a little in this department, but as the contest progressed, they learnt to set themselves better and became more competitive.

Improvement and learning from the experience of playing against the top provinces in the country, is the stated goal of the Constantia-based team.

They have indeed shown improvement as the competition has progressed and Saturday’s outing gave coach Brendan Dawson much to enthuse about.

Yes, they have a tendency to leak first half points, and 19 seems to be their bogey half-time points against number.

Starting slowly is perhaps another criticism but there is so much to enthuse about.

The Young Bucks don’t lie down. They made WP work hard for their victory, playing more than their fair share of the rugby in the second half.

“We never felt like the small dogs in a big pack”, said lock Jan Ferreira.

“We fronted up. There was a good vibe on the pitch and we feel we made Province work hard. We need to work on our patience though. We try and be electric from all positions of the pitch instead of building up.

“We definitely showed improvement”, said the big lock, who handed the captaincy back to flyhalf Brendon Mandivenga, who was returning from injury. The pivot is a prodigious talent, his presence a positive influence on the team.

This Saturday, the Young Bucks host the Free State XV at False Bay Rugby Club.

The visitors have won three of their four matches in the competition so far and are guaranteed to test the defensive structures of the Zimbabweans.

They easily dispatched the SWD Eagles 64-17 over last weekend, and while Dawson is unlikely to encourage his team to crawl into a defensive shell, their structures will need to be sound to contain a team which is unrelenting on attack.

It is of course an opportunity for the young Zimbabweans to impress, all the while ensuring their development continues.

With a burgeoning “home” support base in attendance, the match promises to an entertaining occasion for those in attendance.

Club venues are intimate, allowing the spectator to experience proceedings close-up.

It appeals to all the senses, from the smell of the liniment to the thump of the tackle, with the added bonus of a better than normal opportunity to meet the players one normally only sees on television.

Adding to the occasion will be a curtain-raiser between the False Bay Rugby Kids and their friends, Masiphumelele from Noordhoek. The encounter is pure delight as young players pit their skills against each other in a show which always delights.

The curtain raiser starts at 2.30pm with the main match kicking off at 4pm.

Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.