By HUMPHREY LOMBE –
SIMBA retained the Ndola Schools Under -18 rugby invitational tournament, for the second year running, after beating rival Chifubu 7-0 at the weekend.
But despite Simba retaining the title, it was Masati High school who were the real winners by becoming the first team out from the Copperbelt rural to take part in this prestigious tournament.
In an all day event held at Simba sports fields, Masaiti were recognised for the effort and were presented with a new set of jerseys by the tag rugby team of UK through their representative Chris Mwamba, who is also youth rugby coordinator.
Masaiti added a feather to the cap by springing up a big surprise clinching the Bowl event in which their forward Richard Malembeka scored a winning try against seasoned campaigners Malela High School of Chamboli, Kitwe.
Malembeka was voted man of the match for his feat and presented with a personal ball for use in training.
It was sweet revenge for Simba who were beaten by Chifubu in the preliminary round, match one, in the same tournament last year; although Simba went on to win the cup by annihilating Mpelembe 14-0.
Chifubu were lacklustre in moving the attack, and twice came closing to scoring but lack of vision by their forwards cost them dearly after Simba surged ahead through a try and conversion by their enterprising winger Alex Chungu who scored during the first half, and it came as no surprise that he was picked as the man of the match.
Chifubu coach, Ackim Nyirenda, attributed the loss to his players whom he cited for lacking imagination.
“The boys did not play well. On their part, they looked disorganised and could not use their brains properly when opportunities presented themselves. We lost opportunities”, Nyirenda said.
Simba coach, Philip Dongo, who is also tournament organiser, expressed concern over the future of his team because he will embark on rebuilding the squad.
This is because the current crop of players may opt to do their foundation overseas as opposed to spending two years at Simba for their form six lower and upper.
Masaiti received their first baptism at the hands of Masala losing 0-3 and Mpelembe 0-5 before being handed out a 10-0 thrashing by Simba.
Chengelo of Mkushi that have religiously participated in these FQM schools sponsored 15’s and 7’s tournaments since inception nine years ago, were conspicuously absent and so was Kansenshi High School suspended for indiscipline.
During the 7’s competition held last year at the same venue, Kansenshi refused to play any further part in the matches after protesting of bad officiating in a game that they lost. Chengelo were unable to travel because it was the school’s open day and closure.
The teams that took part in the event were Ndola’s based Simba, Chifubu, Chiwala, Masala and Ndeke, Mpelembe, Malela from Kitwe and Masaiti.
Dongo said the teams will regroup again for the 7’s tournament whose date will be soon announced.
He also hinted that Mpongwe are likely to make their maiden appearance during the 7’s.
“We are just waiting for our sponsors First Quantum to confirm funding and then we will agree on the date,” he said.