THE National Rugby League (NRL) has been divided into two, the Northern and Southern Regions for the 2015 season owing to financial constraints due to lack of sponsorship which saw last season end prematurely.
NRL president Noddy Kanyangarara has since stepped down as chairman after a committee was set up by the nine clubs in the league to oversee the two divisions.
The clubs are Old Georgians, Old Hararians and Harare Sports Club from Harare, Matabeleland Busters, Old Miltonians and Western Panthers from Bulawayo, Gweru Sports Club, Mutare Sports Club and Zvishavane Bulls.
“The NRL was never popular with the ZRU,” Kanyangarara said yesterday in an interview.
“We were more of a threat to them because the National League was more popular than the Rugby Union. Last year when the season ended, ZRU were happy because this was an opportunity for them to try and take over competitions.”
Kanyangarara continued: “We had already started looking for a sponsor this year and we were within our timeframe when the ZRU called a meeting with all the clubs. I was called, but we were never asked about our plans as the league. ZRU laid out their plan that they wanted to form two leagues, the Northern and Southern regions. That means we are going back to what we had nine years ago when the National Rugby League started.”
He said ZRU chose a committee that would run the league which set to start in April, but would merge if they got a sponsor.
“We were told that the league would only merge if they get a sponsor and I decided to step down,” he said.
“What they have done is not good for rugby.”
Kanyangarara said with the new format, they were going to cut the number of weeks that the leagues were going to run from 20 to 18.
He believed that more focus would now be on the Sevens instead of the 15-a-side.
“I am enjoying the time I have been out of rugby,” he said.
“I have been in the league for the past eight or nine years. Although this is not the best way of getting out, it is refreshing and it will give me time to support those running it.”
ZRU director of coaching Brighton Chivandire said the union was not taking over from the NRL, but overseeing the competitions.
“The league will start in April around Easter,” he said.
“It will be a regional-based league,” he said.
“The teams will play regionally in the first two rounds. You will appreciate that the league has no sponsor and the two leagues will only merge when we get one.
“We are setting up a committee which should have selected its chairperson by the end of this week. The committee was constituted by the clubs and we are only helping with the terms of reference.”