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MOUNTING problems, largely financial, have forced the Zimbabwe Rugby Union to abandon their dream of reviving the inter-provincial tournament that was scheduled to take place this weekend after more than a decade.

The inter-provincial tournaments are used as a primary stage to selecting national teams in their respective categories with the last senior tournament of this nature having been held in March 2004.

Since then, the ZRU have struggled to host these games, but they had signalled their hope of going back to basics this year after director of rugby Brighton Chivandire released a calendar which indicated these would take place this weekend.

Currently, the Under-18, Under-17 and Under-13 teams are the only ones taking part in the inter-provincial tournaments as all the players in these age-groups are in school and this makes it easier to host these games given that schools chip in.

And the schools will this weekend have their trials where they will pick provincial sides to do battle next weekend at Falcon College in Esigodini.

The tournament at Falcon College will provide the school boys with a platform to fight for places in the Under-18 side that will represent

Zimbabwe at the annual Craven Week festival in South Africa.

But the case is different from the Under-19 stage going upwards as the ZRU have resorted to other means of picking players for the Under-19, Under-20, women’s and the Sables with Chivandire indicating they have realised they “do not have the resources to host such a tournament”.

Initially the inter-provincial tournament that was expected to be used as a platform to select the Sables squad for the upcoming Africa Cup were set for Harare, but Chivandire yesterday told The Herald they have changed both the date and format for selection.

“We have changed the format of selecting the national squad because inter-provincial means all the provinces will have to bring in their teams to a central venue for selection, but I do not think that we have the resources in terms of finance and players.

“So we are now going to have a North versus South game on May 30 in Harare where the best players from teams in the clubs from the Southern Region will play their counterparts in the Northern Region,” said the former Sables coach.

This means players from clubs in the Midlands, Bulawayo and Masvingo will come up with one team while Harare-based teams – Harare Sports Club, Old Georgians, Old Hararians, Southern City, Police and Mutare Sports Club will comprise of the northern region.

Despite player numbers to make up the 10 provinces and financial constraints, Chivandire added that the local league has not had a good start which was another problem that has affected their inter-provincial plans.

“We have had a shaky start to the league season so we will have to put more effort to pick the two regional sides and go with the best players from the north and the south, but we are yet to name our selection panel,” added Chivandire.

This means the provincial leagues will go on and will take a break at the end of the month to make way for the national trials.

Source : The Herald