Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
A JUNIOR rugby side from England is expected to tour Zimbabwe next week where they will play four games with an array of local select teams ahead of the start of the local schools season.
The England Independent Schools — a select developmental side from schools across England — is billed to take on Mbare Academy, Harare Lions, Under-18 Goshawks and an Under-19 side that is preparing for the Junior Africa Cup.
According to Zimbabwe Rugby Union marketing and media consultant David Crouch, the games will take place between April 1 and 10 and these would help the local coaches in selecting and preparing for their respective assignments.
For the Lambs, the tour of Zimbabwe marks their end of season while it is just the beginning for Zimbabwe schools calendar, making it another good platform for coaches and selectors to have a look at the junior players.
The last time any side from England toured Zimbabwe was two years ago when the Barbarians Under-18 side won all their games against Prince Edward, Lomagundi College and St John’s College.
“They are an emerging Under-20 side and they will face a number of local sides in the first week of April (next week) and they will face Mbare (Academy), a Goshawks Under-18 side that we feel will be made up of (potential) Craven Week players, a Goshawks Under-19 side for the JWRT qualifiers and a Barbarians side that would comprise players from these three teams,” said Crouch.
Crouch also added that the Under-19 side for the JWRT qualifiers, that are set for Namibia this year, will also take on provincial side Falcons of South Africa in a preparatory game on their way to Windhoek. “It will be important that the Under-19 side gets that extra game. We will be passing through South Africa on our way to Namibia anyway so we decided to take advantage of that and that is why we are planning for a game against Valke.
“For the Under-18 Craven Week side the inter-provincial tournament (that is also used as the major selection process) has been set for Harare slated for March 23 and 24 and the good thing about this year’s trial games structure is that players get to play more games.” While the junior side are expected to start their season’s preparations next week with some of the schools teams already on outbound tours, the Sables will also take to the field next month. Awaiting the return of director of rugby Liam Middleton from Hong Kong where he is with the Cheetahs for the World Sevens Series core status qualifiers, some of the shortlisted Sables are training under fitness coach Grant Mitchell.
These are expected to be joined by some of the players that are in Hong Kong with the Cheetahs before they get into full camp in June as they prepare for the Africa Cup that is this year doubling up as the World Cup qualifier.
England Independent Schools Squad: Jonathan
Allen(Solihull School), Rory Carter (Caterham), Alex Dunham (King’s College Taunton), Jack Edwards(Leys), William Foster (Eltham College), Nick Gilbertson(Barnard Castle), Oliver Glasse (Denstone College), Andy Hamilton (Blundell’s School), Patrick Marmion (Leys), Hugo McPherson (Eton College), Charles Morgan (Woodhouse Grove), Juyin Oluwayemi (Culford), Ben Onyeama-Chrisite (Bristol Grammar School), William Potter (Kings College Taunton), Elliot Roofe (Colfe’s), Sam Rossiter (Pangbourne College), Toby Simpson (St. Peter’s York), Guy Snowball (Portsmouth Grammar School), Patrick Tarleton (Cheltenham College), Jack Tinker (Hymers College), Richard Whiteside (Kirkham Grammar School), Jack Williams (Kelly College), Miles Moorhouse (Clifton College), Gus Antons (RGS Newcastle), Joel MacFarlane (Bradford Grammar School), William Pepper (St Peters York), Harrison Dodds (Hymers College), Thomas Jones (Hymers College).