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. The Zambia national rugby union team is currently ranked 73rd by World Rugby. The Zambia Rugby Football Union has 3,650 registered players and three formally organised clubs.
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.
Fifteens (XVs) rugby in Zambia is played at a basic level compared to the major rugby playing nations.
Zambia has over the last seven years built its own highly respected 7s tournament in the form of the Lusaka Mosi International Sevens. Past winners include the Springbok under-23s and the British Army. Zambia has beaten a number of South African Super 14 teams who have participated.
Sevens rugby has become a strong point. The Zambia national rugby sevens team has 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 South Africa Sevens and the Dubai Sevens.
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.
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.
In Lusaka there are four active rugby clubs. Lusaka Rugby Club, Nkwazi rugby team , 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.
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.
- 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 Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine. 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. Archived from the original on 9 November 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
- "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.