Yale Team Visits Zimbabwe
Some people go to Florida for their spring vacation. The Yale Rugby Club has gone to Zimbabwe.
The club left Thursday--over the objections of A. Bartlett Giamatti, president of Yale--for a two-week, five-match trip to Salisbury, Zimbabwe, Don Sampson, the tour organizer, said the team chose Zimbabwe because rugby is its national sport.
Giamatti expressed concern about the trip because of the factional fighting between supporters of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe and nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo, which escalated two weeks ago and left more than 300 dead. Giamatti said the trip was "not a good idea," because the club is entering a "volatile situation."
Robert Frasure, Desk Officer for Zimbabwe of the U.S. State Department, said the current situation in Zimbabwe is not dangerous, adding, "the insurgency is over now and it's quite peaceful."
Tim Shriver, a team spokesman, said "we never thought the trip was going to come through." But the club contacted several notables, such as Benjamin Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post, and Cyrus Vance, former Secretary of State, for their support. "Everyone leaped at the idea," Shriver said.
Members of the club raised more than $40,000 for the trip, soliciting funds from nearly 100 corporations. Sponsors include Xerox and the Ford Motor Company Fund.
Shriver said the tour will be to show American goodwill as well as to play rugby. The team hopes to meet Mugabe and Nkomo, he added.