Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Rugby Union have launched an audacious bid to play in the Super (15) Rugby competition and talks are already underway over the proposal between visiting International Rugby Union vice-president Oregan Hoskins and the locals. The Super Rugby format is expected to change from 2016 to assume an 18-team format and four-conference system that will see one of the conferences including an African team taking part.
Hoskins is reportedly keen to see Zimbabwe bidding to play more home games for the Sables.
South Africa will have two of the four conferences under the new format, with the six South African franchises being joined by an Argentine side and an African team. The South African conferences will be made up of four teams each, with the sides playing home and away against each other initially before moving into a five-team cross conference phase of the tournament against teams in the Australasian conferences.
The Australasian conferences will be divided into New Zealand and Australian sections made up of five teams each.
After that the teams will play across conferences against the other teams in their conference system.
Hoskins addressed a media briefing on Tuesday night and hinted that as South Africa Rugby Union they wanted Zimbabwe to take part in greater international games that also include at least three home Test matches.
“We have discussed the possibility of Zimbabwe playing in the South African domestic competition. This is something that is long overdue and I will take back to my country and look into going forward. “As you know Namibia has played in our domestic competition, Kenya are currently playing in (one of) our domestic competitions and now it’s important that we get Zimbabwe to play in South Africa’s domestic competitions.
“That will strengthen the game in Zimbabwe and will also restore the relations we have had over the many, many years which but have not been there over the last couple of decades and from an international rugby perspective, I believe it is also important that the IRB looks seriously at having Zimbabwe possibly host an important tournament I am not sure at what level though.
“What I have seen so far is that Zimbabwe has a lot to offer to the International Rugby Board and next week when I go back to the IRB for our meetings for the report on what I have seen here I would definitely give Zimbabwe thumbs up and tell the council that Zimbabwe is ready to host a tournament under the auspices of the IRB.
“We also looked at the possibility of having the national team playing in more home Tests so that people can see their national team and allow the team to bring to this nation pride again and have an African inter-Test competition and I can only say that this visit was worthwhile,” said Hoskins. ZRU president John Falkenberg yesterday said the first step would be to play in the South African competitions hopefully starting next year.
“We have made our proposal to the IRB and the Confederation of African Rugby so they will take up the case and get back to us but we hope that by next year we will be back in the South African domestic competition. We are trying to work on a structure that would for a start be made up of six teams including Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Madagascar, a South African Franchise and the plan is that we get to play at least three home games.
“This is what Hoskins was talking about that we need to give Zimbabweans a chance of watching their national teams play at home and all we just have to work on is getting tickets for flights because everything else would be taken care of as we also have the television rights.”