By Ricky Zililo
The battle to control Hartsfield ground could have ignited the tiff between the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) and Bulawayo Metropolitan Rugby Football Board (BMRFB).
Martin Shone, ZRU vice-president (south) responsible for provinces in the southern part of the country which are Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo, revealed that relations with BMRFB took a strain in 2018 when they turned down a deal for a Hartfield takeover.
Shone said BMRFB refused to sign a deal with Titan Law, which wanted to renovate Hartsfield into a state-of-the-art facility, including a hotel to be used by international teams.
This would have given Titan Law exclusive rights to the venue.
Shone said they were immediately at loggerheads after BMRFB turned down the proposal.
BMRFB has a lease with the Bulawayo City Council and Shone says the collapse of the proposed deal cost local rugby US$500 000 as World Rugby gives US$1 for every US$1 invested in rugby.
Thulani Tabulawa was then removed as BMRFB chairman marking the beginning of instability in the BMRFB, according to ZRU.
Fungai Mudzekenyedzi took over from Tabulawa on an interim capacity until Delvin Ismail was voted in as substantive chairman last year.
Ismail was suspended a few months after his election and although he was later reinstated, he was removed at the beginning of this year at an election that ushered in Craig Change.
Last month ZRU dissolved Change’s board, accusing it of “paralysing the smooth running” of the game in Bulawayo despite the new board’s efforts to revive and expand the game in the province.
ZRU is expected to announce an interim committee that will be in office for two years.
It’s not clear if the interim board will be instructed to revisit the Titan Law deal.
It’s also not also clear if the interim board will work on the dissolved BMRFB leadership’s recommendation to revisit the Hartsfield Tshisa Nyama lease.
The dissolved BMRFB was pushing to shut down the popular Hartsfield Tshisa Nyama, saying it wanted the venue to return to being an exclusive rugby facility.
Top rugby school Falcon College has refused to play in the BMRFB junior festivals at Hartsfield because of broken beer bottles littering the place.
Junior players, particularly Under-13s and Under-15s play barefooted.
Besides looking into the Tshisa Nyama deal, the interim BMRFB executive will be mandated to work on constitutional amendments to align with the ZRU. The Chronicle