Rugby union in Zambia
|Rugby union in Zambia|
|Governing body||Zambia Rugby Football Union|
|First played||Late nineteenth century|
Rugby union in Zambia is a minor but growing sport. They are currently ranked 73rd by the IRB and have 3,650 registered players and 3 formally organised clubs. (There are a number of local/informal clubs as well)
Not unlike other neighbouring African countries, Zambian rugby has been a legacy of British colonialism. Traditionally rugby in Zambia was seen as an expatriate sport, however, over the last 20 years it has become a truly Zambian sport with the majority of its players coming up through the schools and local club system. Zambia has an active league that has recently been amended to consist of a Super 8 format with a second league comprising smaller clubs and second teams from the Super 8. The season runs from March to October and consists of a period of time for league matches, a break for sevens rugby, during which the highlight of the season, the Lusaka Mosi International Sevens takes place, and the finale, the knock out cup competition.
Although fifteens (XVs) rugby in Zambia is played at a basic level compared to the major rugby playing nations, sevens rugby has become a strong point. The Zambian national team has in the past beaten Italy and Canada and came within 30 seconds of upsetting Australia, in the end narrowly losing 11-12. Zambia has appeared on the international stage, both at the George 7s and the Dubai 7s and has over the last seven years built its own highly respected 7s tournament in the form of the Lusaka Mosi International Sevens. The fact that past winners include the Springbok under-23s and the British Army show the calibre of the entrants and the fact that Zambia has beaten a number of South African Super 14 teams who have participated, shows the calibre of Zambian Sevens rugby.
In Lusaka there are three active rugby clubs. Lusaka Rugby Club, Green Buffaloes (the army team) and Red Arrows (the air force team) all play within Lusaka Showgrounds (see map on the Lusaka Rugby Club page) and both Lusaka Rugby Club and Red Arrows have an active club house with a number of facilities available for members and signed-in guests.
In the Copperbelt, rugby is most popular, near or surpassing football. Towns all have their own rugby teams with a varying degree of facilities available at each club. Diggers Rugby Club in Kitwe has over the past few years been the most successful of the Copperbelt clubs and is the most active in terms of the number of players and of social activities happening at the club. They even have another team, Diggers B, active in the B-League. Nchanga Rugby Club are in Chingola, Roan Rugby Club are in Luanshya, Konkola Rugby Club is in Chilalabombwe and Mufulira popularly known as 'Reggae Boys', Ndola 'Killer Bees' and Chibuluma each have their own rugby club. Other teams are Kanshanshi in Solwezi, Prison Leopards in Kabwe while Kitwe Playing Fields and Chambeshi have clubs in their respective towns.
Most clubs start training in the middle of January ready for the season to begin in March. League matches are played up until the start of June when a break is taken to allow concentration on sevens events. During the months break there are a number of local 7s events including the Rhino Sevens in Ndola, the Mufulira Sevens (the first sevens tournament held in Zambia) and the Mosi Sevens in Lusaka.
The league continues again in July and generally runs through to October when the knock out cup competition takes place.
Rugby is becoming increasingly popular with it being very active in schools such as Mpelembe Secondary School, Kitwe Boys, David Kaunda Technical School, Icengelo and Lechwe, both of the latter are Trust Schools. Two annual tournaments sponsored First Quantum Minerals (FQM) are hosted, one for Fifteens and the other for Sevens. Mpelembe and Icengelo have been the two most successful. Mpelembe went on to get sponsorship from mobile service providing giant, MTN, which was recently withdrawn.
- In the 1990s, Ian Kirkpatrick, late of the All Blacks helped develop the game.
- Corné Krige and George Gregan, who respectively captained the South Africa and Australia teams in both the 2002 and 2003 Tri Nations Series, were coincidentally born in the same hospital in Zambia. Krige's parents still live in Zambia.
- Dafydd James of Wales and the 2001 British and Irish Lions was born in Mufulira.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rugby union in Zambia.|
- Cotton, Fran (Ed.) (1984) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records. Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. ISBN 0-7126-0911-3
- IRB Zambia page retrieved 5 July 2009
- Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p79
- Cotton, p107
- "George Gregan - Player Profile". Georgegregan.com. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
- "Captain Courageous: Corné Krige", TheGoal.com, retrieved 26 June 2006.
- "Rugby Union World Cup Special Reports: South Africa", The Guardian, 6 October 2003.
- Rob Cole (1 June 2009). "The British & Irish Lions : Lions from foreign lands". British and Irish Lions. Retrieved 13 June 2010.