from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – THE curtains have abruptly come down the Zimbabwean rugby season as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues bringing the sporting world to a standstill.
Some of the tournaments that authorities have postponed are either sponsored by South African firms or initially scheduled for Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour.
These include the SuperSport Challenge and the annual Craven Week.
“We had six major events on the calendar this year, the SuperSport Challenge and the Craven Week in South Africa, the Gold Cup, the Victoria Cup, the Hong Kong 7s and the Ladies Africa 7s but all these have been postponed,” said Zimbabwe Rugby Union(ZRU) president, Aaron Jani.
ZRU runs the Cheetahs (7s), Sables (15s), junior and ladies cricket.
“Once we get the green light from the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) our intention is to see how much rugby can still be played,” Jani said.
The SRC is adamant rugby and football are among high risk codes that cannot be cleared for now amid the country’s lockdown that was extended indefinitely this past weekend.
“Zimbabwe can systematically reintroduce the sporting events after strategically programming and planning for a smooth implementation. It must be emphasized that all these sporting activities remain prohibited,” the SRC stated.
Cricket, swimming, athletics, tennis, golf, rowing, shooting and chess, where physical distancing is possible, are considered low risk codes.
The local rugby union has been keeping in touch, through virtual meetings with Rugby Africa and World Rugby, on consultations on how the game moves forward.
Jani said the impact had been devastating on sponsors.
“The companies are suffering financially and the economy has also taken a knock. The situation is very disturbing. We hope to recover once we start playing,” the ZRU boss said.
Zimbabwe’s economy was already on a freefall before the COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases have been marginally increasing in Zimbabwe.
Four deaths have been documented from 44 cases but it is feared the outbreak is higher but downplayed by low testing.
– CAJ News