After years of toil, many of which has seen them dangling on the periphery of obscurity, women’s rugby in Zimbabwe has been handed a lifeline.
First was the Harare International Seven’s Rugby tournament — formerly the Kwese Sevens — and the Zimbabwe U-20 girls team is expected to host South Africa in a two-match bilateral series.
The tour — the first of its kind — has been slated for June 26-28 in the capital.
And the man who has been doing the business with consistent results with the Under-18 girls at South Africa’s Youth Week, Nsikelelo “Sykes” Sibanda has been handed the reins.
Zimbabwe’s Under-20 National Girls have been clamouring for more game time, and it appears their cries have been heard as they play a South African Ladies 15s side.
Sibanda believes that the girls will continue to make strong impressions in Africa and this will build up to greater competitions.
“As a result of our performances; South Africa Rugby Union (SARU) saw it fit that we start building our Under-20 sides along with them,” said Sibanda.
“They were looking for the best possible competition in Africa and they settled for Zimbabwe, basing it on the performances of the Under-18 girls.
“This is a historic moment for us, as we build up our women’s rugby, and hopefully we will be playing 15s test rugby against them at senior level as well as Under-20 level,” said Sibanda.
In 2015 the Zimbabwe Under-18 won two out of three matches and came fourth overall out of 60 teams at the South Africa Youth Week.
The following year, they moved a level up, and finished third.
It seemed the beginning of a steady rise as the team then proceeded to give yet another a sterling performance, at the 2017 edition, winning three games and earning a well-deserved second place ranking.
Last year the girls dropped one place from second back to third ranking after winning two out of three matches.
Prior to the bilateral series, some of the Under-20 girls in the Under-18 side will travel to Jeppe Boys High in Johannesburg for this year’s edition of the SARU Youth Week.
The tournament has been slated for June 17-21.
Zimbabwe will be the main feature on the opening day of the youth week, the team scheduled to face Kwazulu-Natal on June 18.