The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) have shown faith in national men’s Fifteens coach, Brendan Dawson, with the former Sables skipper given the mandate to take the team to the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be held in France.
At a time when ZRU will be advertising all posts for national team coaches, Dawson and his Sables coaching staff have been retained. Sifiso Made, the ZRU chief executive officer on Thursday wrote to all national team coaches to advise them that the union was in the process of re-shaping, seeing that most of the planned engagements in 2020 have been cancelled because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) with only the Sables technical team to remain intact.
Dawson, Danny Hondo (backline coach), Liam Middleton (defence coach), Graham Knoop (lineout coach), Jason Maritz (team manager) and Alice Randall (physiotherapist) make up the Sables technical structure.
“I write to advise you that the union will be retooling during this Covid-19 period and since all national assignments have been shelved, we have to look towards the 2021 season and beyond. In preparation for the 2021 season, we will be advertising all positions save for the Sables technical team who have already been restructured,’’ said Made.
ZRU are looking to allocate mentoring as well as organisational materials and bring them into line to the country’s flagship national team, the Sables so as to advance Zimbabwe’s own type of rugby.
“The idea is to optimally allocate our coaching and administrative resources and align them to our flagship team the ‘Sables’ in terms of style, brand of rugby and ethos. Our aim is to make the transition from age grade to the Sables a seamless process for both ladies and men. We must develop our own brand of rugby, a Zimbabwe brand of rugby,’’ Made said.
ZRU’s technical committee, which includes the headmaster in charge of school rugby, Tungamirai Mashungu will carry out the transition free from outside influence.
Aaron Jani, the ZRU president feels that it is essential to streamline for the sake of the future of times ahead, with the hope that the measures will produce outcomes that will see Zimbabwe qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“We need to restructure for the future and we hope these moves will give us the results we want which is to qualify for the 2023 World Cup and to Improve our rankings in all our national teams,’’ Jani said.
He is of the view that the Covid-19 pandemic has afforded ZRU an opportunity to relook at the way they are conducting business, with the hope that the measures will produce the desired outcome. ZRU are looking to develop structures for the sevens version of the game at domestic level which can result in the increase of pool of players available for selection for the Cheetahs. Plans are in place to secure game time for the Sables at the end of 2020 once worldwide travel restrictions are relaxed.
The Sables have not taken to the field this year since South Africa’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge was called off and Rugby Africa cancelled the 2020 season. Zimbabwe, ranked 35 in the world were meant to play Ghana and Tunisia in the Rugby Africa Cup Group D whose winner was meant to clash with whoever topped Group A, which had Namibia, Zambia and Madagascar in the semi-finals.