Story : Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has moved the annual Kwese Sports Rugby Sevens tournament from Victoria Falls to Harare citing logistical challenges.
The third edition of the tournament was supposed to be in March as part of initial plans to stage the tournament in Victoria Falls for five years to develop the game in the resort town and attract international events and promote tourism.
A rugby stadium has also been earmarked for Victoria Falls to leave a rugby legacy and plant a permanent seed for the game.
The dream seems to have gone up in smoke after ZRU decided to move the tourney and rename it the Harare International Sevens.
The decision was reportedly made by the ZRU top four, who include the president, his two deputies and chief executive officer.
As the local organising committee was readying itself to start preparations for the tournament, communication was received from the ZRU that Victoria Falls would no longer host the event.
Local fans and rugby fanatics are unhappy and feel sabotaged by the ZRU leaders for withdrawing the tournament from the resort town.
ZRU vice-president for the Southern Region Martin Shone said there was nothing sinister about moving the tournament to Harare.
He said ZRU and sponsors want to rotate the tournament, although Kwese Sports initially wanted the tournament in Victoria Falls.
Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe took part in the first two editions, livening up the resort town.
“Only the venue has changed because of logistical problems. The sponsor came to us and said they wanted to try another venue and wanted it to be in Harare. The cost is very high in Victoria Falls in terms of accommodation and the number of spectators tends to be more in bigger towns,” said Shone.
“The sponsor is the one who came up with the Victoria Falls idea.
“We appreciate the huge involvement of the Victoria Falls and Hwange communities and we want to assure them that they are not forgotten as we are looking beyond Kwese in the development of rugby sevens and 15s hence we have bigger plans.”
He said ZRU will still go ahead with plans to construct a stadium in Victoria Falls.
The idea is either to upgrade Chinotimba Stadium or a soccer pitch adjacent to Elephant Hills Resort Golf Course.
Shone said engagements with council will continue.
Uganda will be taking part in this tournament as the last part of preparation for Hong Kong 7s, a Core status qualifiers.