Mzwandile Mali Heads for Knockouts
Following a series of well-contested matches, the teams in the Mzwandile Mali Schools Rugby Tournament have been whittled down to the last seven title hopefuls.
For 25 boys there is also the distinct possibility of a tour to England in September 2020.
This comes after the final round-robin games were completed last week, with matches being played in Grahamstown and Fort Beaufort.
A total of seven schools will contest the knockout phase of the competition, headed by three-time title-holders Ndzondelelo High of Zwide.
They will be joined by Molly Blackburn, whom they beat in last year’s final, Solomon Mahlangu, Booysen Park, Phakamisa, Cowan and Mary Waters from Grahamstown.
Tournament director Lincoln Mali said the draw for the next round of matches, which will take place on March 19 and 20, would be held at Cowan High on Tuesday (3 March 2020).
“At that draw, one of the teams will have a bye,” Mali said. “That means the remaining teams will play on 19 March [three games], with the winners joining the school who have a bye in the 20 March semifinals.
“Unfortunately some teams had to be withdrawn from the tournament because the schools failed to produce the requisite identity documents for their players.
“This is a difficult and painful process, yet it’s necessary to protect the players, to preserve the integrity of the tournament and to promote appropriate player development.”
While there will be a strong focus on winning the tournament by those involved, the highlight for the boys will be the selection of 25 players for Mzwandile Mali squad for 2020, which will tour England in September at the invitation of Sevenoaks Rugby Football Club in Kent.
“They will play against the Sevenoaks juniors, and two prestigious schools, Dulwich College and Tonbridge School,” Mali said.
“In addition, these young players will receive world-class coaching, life skills guidance, nutrition and diet lessons.
“This tour represents a lifetime opportunity for these young players and it will hopefully inspire them to achieve greater things in their lives.”
Photo: Solomon Mahlangu team
From Neale Emslie on behalf of Mzwandile Mali Schools Rugby Tournament