Old Georgians (OGs) coach and former Cheetahs backliner, Grant Mitchell, believes his charges are capable of going the entire season in the newly established Super Six League unbeaten to become rugby immortals.
No local rugby outfit has ever completed an unbeaten season’s run in the national league in Zimbabwe. But, at regional level, Harare Sports Club (HSC) ended the Northern Region League unbeaten last year.
Known as the Dragons, OGs have been the dominant bull in the kraal this season and now head into their final six games on the back of a remarkable run that has seen them win their first four games and are bidding to become immortals as they currently lead the national league’s log standings with 19 points.
Analysts said if the Dragons maintain that form, the record books are likely to be re-written. But, they have to overcome formidable opponents like their neighbours, Harare Sports Club and Old Hararians.
The three teams are locked in a battle for supremacy and know each other very well. Sportivo, as Harare Sports Club are affectionately known, are second on the log standings with 15 points from four games.
Old Hararians are on position three with 11 points from three games. On fourth position is Matabeleland Warriors with six points. Mutare Sports Club and Old Miltonians occupy fifth and sixth positions with five points and nil respectively.
After a good start to the season, Mitchell, the former Cheetahs’ coach, this week voiced his beliefs to Business Times saying the Dragons can achieve that remarkable milestone and can win all their remaining games to become the most invincible rugby outfit this
season- a frightening thought.
“As challenging as it is, our objective is to win every match irrespective of the stage of the season. And if we end up unbeaten then that’s (a huge) bonus,” Mitchell told Business Times this week.
Old Georgians has so far beaten Matabeleland Warriors 30-21 , Old Hararians 28-27, Harare Sports Club 21-16 and thrashed Mutare Sports Club 78-24 in the first game of the season.
Mitchell said his team was yet to hit top gear.
“It most certainly isn’t a perfect start when we do an internal reflection and performance analysis. We know what we as a club are capable of and we are yet to deliver on it. The fact that we sit atop the leader board is not a true reflection of our capabilities. The
wins to date have definitely come from a fierce approach to competing and not taking an inch backwards,” Mitchell said.
He, however, refused to give credit individuals.
“Singling out players in a group that has worked hard for a number months doesn’t do the accolade justice. Every time a player gets the honour of wearing the red, black and white (jersey), he does his best and puts his club first,” Mitchell said.
The Dragons’ next game will be against Sportivo, in the mother of all rugby battles, to be played when the league resumes in July.
“We are big boys and are capable of doing it against OG (Old Georgians),” the ex-Cheetahs and Sables skipper said in his usual gritty determination.
Hondo bemoaned the loss of several players that was instrumental when Sportivo won the Northern Region league last year. He, however, said it was an opportunity for the new boys in his squad to shine.
Hondo said several leading players have left the rugby club but was not complaining as it presents “an opportunity for the other boys to shine”.
“These include prop Cleopas Kundiona who joined Johannesburg based outfit Raiders Rugby Club in March this year (currently representing Zimbabwe Academy in the SuperSport Challenge Cup in South Africa), lock Godfrey Magaramombe, who went to Old Georgians and Tawanda Mudyiwa who left for university (Chinhoyi University of Technology),” Hondo said.
Matabeleland Warriors coach, Gilbert Nyamutsamba was confident his team would improve after the break. “(Matabeleland Warriors) could be in a better position,” Nyamutsamba
told Business Times.
“We are a team on a rebuilding exercise. The absence of a league for years, has resulted in no rugby action on the southern side of this country. So, this is the first time but we get in the league so we are learning.”
Nyamutsamba said Matabeleland Warriors was eyeing a semi-final berth. “We are getting lessons as we go and our target is to get into the semi-finals. From a rebuilding position, we are on course. We are improving in every game that we play. The nerves are settling,” he said.
During the two months break, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) organised a four team Harare Challenge Cup. Old Georgians, Harare Sports Club, Old Hararians and Mutare Sports Club, will participate in the competition. This left Matabeleland Warriors and Old Miltonians out in the cold.
Nyamutsamba was not happy with the arrangement. “The fact that the tournament (Harare Challenge Cup) was organised by the mother body (ZRU) it should have been all inclusive. Now that the southern region teams have been left in the cold, it will disadvantage when the league resume,” Nyamutsamba said.
Theo Weale, the coach of Old Miltonians, which has become the punch line of all the Super Six League teams so far, said his wounded team will bounce back after the break.
The Bulawayo based outfit is tottering on the brink of relegation.
“We have lost a number of key players when the season started such as Victor Chiwana, a prop who joined Matabeleland Warriors, Jason Mackay (Matabeleland Warriors) and Thabani Sakupwanya (Matabeleland Warriors),” Weale said.
“But, we are determined and optimistic that we are going to survive relegation this season. We are using each game as a learning curve and for us it is a very big prospect and the young players now understand the level of the game. We continue pushing these young players and in each game we have played, they are learning something. Most of the
players we lost are now showing interest in coming back.”