Chavhanga bares his soul

CAPE TOWN. — In an interview, former Springbok wing Tonderai Chavhanga (TC) has been talking about South Africa’s Rugby World Cup chances, his role as Zimbabwe assistant coach and saying grace with LeBron James.

Sport24: Your view on the 31-man Springbok World Cup squad?
TC: Rassie Erasmus has put together a really awesome squad and there are no real surprises. Everybody who is in the squad has really put their hands up, which is exciting to see. We boast great strength in depth, everyone is fully fit and our senior players are not there merely for experience, but happen to be playing great rugby.

We now have several players that are purely world-class and could play for any of the other top nations. Moreover, Rassie has created a great team environment which every player is raving about as being “the best environment ever”. It’s a pity that some are still talking about the number of players of colour selected for a Springbok side.

I believe Rassie has picked at team that all of us can be truly proud of. Everyone has been hand-picked on form, regardless of their skin colour. I believe the fact that there are 12 players of colour in the squad (three more than for the 2015 Rugby World Cup) is a consequence of everyone being afforded an opportunity.

In terms of the players of colour chosen, I’m of the view that there isn’t a single one you can have a question mark over. The fact that Rassie has given all players who consistently played well in Super Rugby an opportunity to stake their claim for the green jersey has reaped the rewards.

Sport24: How have you enjoyed coaching the Zimbabwean team?
TC: Being involved with the national team as an assistant coach has been absolutely amazing. I never envisioned myself coaching, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and being able to grow as a coach.

I quickly learned that the coaching demands go beyond just the technical aspects of the game, and I have embraced my big brother role with the players. Head coach Brendon Dawson and I are concentrating on the senior side along with defence coach Liam Middleton, conditioning coach Daniel Hondo and team manager Jason Maritz.

(Peter de Villiers was relieved of his duties as Zimbabwe coach in May, 2019 because he did not meet the performance clauses in his contract). Unfortunately, the marriage between the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) and Peter didn’t work and I wish him well in his future endeavours.

Brendon, myself and the rest of the coaching staff are focusing on getting the team back to winning ways and preparing the side for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

We have won four from four in the Victoria Cup and have climbed up about 16 places in the World Rugby rankings. We are concentrating on trying to rebuild Zimbabwean rugby.

The talent is there and I truly believe we can qualify for the World Cup in the future. I think we can not only make the World Cup, but prove competitive because there are a few foreign-based players playing at a high level.

If I was able to assist the team in qualifying for the World Cup it would definitely be my greatest rugby achievement and even better than playing for South Africa as there is nothing more rewarding than restoring pride in the national team and bringing hope to the nation.

Sport24: Three dream dinner guests, who would they be and why?
TC: I would invite former statesman Barack Obama, Pastor TD Jakes and basketball star LeBron James. In terms of food, I would hire Gordon Ramsay to prepare a three-course meal and would introduce my guests to African music from Oliver Mtukudzi. — Sport24.

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