Why would twenty fanatical English rugby supporters spend their own money to fly half-way around the world to a remote corner of Zimbabwe? Crazy? Yes, there is a saying that goes, ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen!’
But these Englishmen were on a compassionate mission to spread the ‘gospel’ of Tag Rugby to rural Zimbabwean school kids.
With hardly enough time to recover from their 24 hour, three stop lay-over flight, ending with a bumpy eight-hour car ride, they threw themselves into five days of coaching in 6 rural schools in the vicinity of ‘Morning Star’ farm. The day was not over, however, until time was spent with pupils in the classroom of each school and then helping with a community project.
Each day, they rose before dawn, gobbled down a quick breakfast, packed a sandwich lunch and headed off down horrendously bad roads, to coach over 200 excited 10 and 11-year-olds the art of Tag Rugby. For the uninformed, Tag Rugby is a non-contact version of rugby, where mixed teams of boys and girls attempt the unusual skills of passing an oval ball backwards to their team-mates whilst avoiding having their tags, attached to a Velcro belt around their waists, from being ripped off. The goal is to dot the ball down behind their opponent’s goal line.
The week culminated with a tournament, in which two teams from each of the six schools (120 kids), competed for the coveted Tag trophy. Sponsored by the Tag Rugby Trust (UK), the week was a huge success, thanks to generous efforts of the English squad led by Martin Hansford and Tony Orton, and the Zimbabwe Tag Rugby squad led by Tinashe Shamu and Thembelani Ncube.
Apart from each participant receiving a prize, each school was donated T-shirts, bibs, cones, a set of tags and rugby balls.
The UK team was so appalled by the state of our roads after the recent floods, that they pledged to try and raise funds for a grader blade for the community.
Thank you TRT (UK) for your incredible support. You have made an impact that we are sure will see tag Rugby become a permanent feature on the sports calendar in the six Matobo schools you coached. We hope to see you back again next year.