LUSAKA, Zambia, July 16, 2018 – The Zambia Rugby National Team has moved one step closer to Gold Cup qualification after beating Madagascar 31:29 at Mufulira Rugby Club on Saturday 14th July 2018. The game which was dominated by the visitors from kick-off saw the host team being pressurised.
Both Zambia and Madagascar came into the contest with a win each after beating Botswana on Sunday 08th July and Wednesday 14th July 2018. The hosts were under pressure from the Islanders who had a better scoreline against Botswana… a situation which was very evident to all local rugby fanatics in Mufulira, whose expectations were sky high.
Zambia beat Madagascar with a minimal scoreline of 31:29. The Islanders try scorers were Saidi Rakotoarimanana (1) and Michael Raharijaona (1) who also scored (2) conversions, (3) penalties and (2) drop goals. The hosts scored tries via Bruce Saimbunji (1), Rodgers Mukupa (1) and Edward Mumba (1). Laston Mukosa scored (1) conversion and (2) penalties, while Dean Zulu also scored (1) conversion and (2) penalties.
Prior to the Silver Cup finale, Zambia Women played Zimbabwe in an International friendly dubbed “Battle of the Zambezi” by local rugby enthusiasts. Zambia scored a try by Team Captain Shirley Mwami which was converted by Rennie Sunzu Wilima. Their neighbours Zimbabwe scored a penalty by Precious Marange.
Africa Rugby Executive Committee Member Colleen de Jong commended the Zambia Rugby Union executive and the local organising committee for their hard work and dedication in ensuring a successful international tourney. She also paid glowing tribute to Mopani Copper Mines for partnering with the Rugby Union and said such a gesture needed to be emulated by other organisations. She added that the union’s inclusion of a communications department headed by Mr Tom Chaloba has helped publicise the tournament to both local and international audiences.
Copperbelt Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe said his government was happy to see the growth of rugby in Zambia. He added that “Most of our citizens have got no idea what rugby is all about, but what Zambia Rugby Union and Mopani Copper Mines have achieved will most certainly spring interest in a lot of people”. The presence of representatives from Africa Rugby, Mopani and all walks of life is testimony that Zambia is ready to host similar or even bigger sports events. This win by the Rugby National Team has really come at the right time as it shows that as a government we have created an enabling environment for partnerships between sporting bodies and corporate institutions.
The Zambia Rugby Union president Gen Clement Sinkamba said the partnership between his union and Mopani was a testament that with right foundations and great understanding, a lot could be achieved. Our partnership with Mopani Copper Mines has really boosted our efforts in ensuring qualification to the playoff, we are now one game away from playing in the Gold Cup of African Rugby. “We shall ensure that the technical bench hits the ground running as we prepare for the game against Algeria at a venue to be announced”. We played and lost our first game against Algeria in November 2017, the coaches will start assessing areas of concern before the team is recalled for residential camp.
In an interview after the game, Mopani Copper Mines Chief Executive Officer Chris Vermeulen reaffirmed his firm’s commitment to the growth and development of rugby in Zambia. He said, “Mopani is committed to its partnership with the Zambia Rugby Union and we are glad that results are showing both on and off the field of play.” The CEO said the mining giant was intent on making sure that Zambian rugby goes global.