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STORMERS KEEN ON ZIM RETURN

SOUTH African Super Rugby franchise, Stormers are keen on returning to Zimbabwe in future for their pre-season matches, having been satisfied with what they saw in their first visit to the country at the weekend. BY HENRY MHARA

The Stormers ran seven tries to the Cheetahs’ one to secure to secure a 43-7 victory in their first warm-up game of the season at the National Sports Stadium on Saturday.

It was one of the two matches that formed part of the Old Mutual Super Rugby weekend, with the Vodacom Bulls beating the Lions 38-17 at the same venue earlier in the day.

It was the second time that Super Rugby teams have had warm-up matches in the country, following a successful maiden trip by the Vodacon Bulls, who played the Toyota Cheetahs in Harare last year.

While there was a low turnout for the weekend matches, with less than a thousand people watching, compared to last year’s crowd of just under 20 000, Stormers coach, Robbie Fleck was still satisfied with the support his team received.

“It is a great tournament and definitely something that we will look forward to coming back to again. It was great to play here and connect with our fans in Zimbabwe,” he said.

After the match, the team headed to Victoria Falls, where they did some sightseeing and training and are expected to leave for Cape Town today.

“We are going to Vic Falls and the guys will have a bit of time off so they can go and experience Vic Falls,” Fleck said after the match.

The visit by the South African Super Rugby teams was organised by local sports management company, Kyros Sports, while financial services company, Old Mutual Zimbabwe were one of the sponsors.

The Bulls toured Zimbabwe for the first time in February last year, where they set up a training camp in Victoria Falls before playing the Cheetahs in a high-profile friendly at the National Sports Stadium.

At least 19 000 fans paid to watch the match, but the number fell significantly this year to about 1 000 despite the increase of the number of participating teams.

Gate charges for the match were also slashed from $10 to $3, but this was still not enough to convince supporters to go and watch the two matches.

Kyros Sports attributed the low turnout to lack of proper marketing strategies and the short notice that was given by the teams in confirming their participation.

Fear of the rains, that have been pounding Harare and the rest of the country, by the supporters, could also have played a huge party in the supporters’ apathy.

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