The 2016 edition of the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival kicked off at Prince Edward School in the capital yesterday. With over 200 teams taking part in the weeklong festival, the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival is by far the largest school rugby event of its kind in the world.
Starting back in 2011 when the tournament was still under the sponsorship of Cottco, the organisers introduced girls’ rugby at the festival with a handful of girls’ teams taking part. The festival continued to grow after Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited took charge of bankrolling the event in 2014 and girls’ participation has grown with it.
While increased girls’ participation is a talking point, the most exciting aspect of incorporating girls rugby at the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival is the improvement in the quality of rugby being displayed by the girls’ teams. The bleachers at Prince Edward used to fill up with people wanting to have a good laugh at the lack of technical skill when the girls started playing at the Festival. It is now a totally different story as coaches have put in the hard work, and a Zimbabwean high school girls’ rugby clash is now equally as exciting as school boy rugby.
After having watched the first day of the tournament, I’m positive that with this crop of girls playing rugby and development headed in the direction it is, Zimbabwe Women’s Rugby has a bright future. Maybe just as the Mighty Warriors have brought international pride to Zimbabwe Football, these girls might just be the ones to do it for Zimbabwe Rugby in the near future.