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ZRU Keep Faith in PDV - Zimbabwe Today
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ZRU Keep Faith in PDV

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Peter De Villiers is set to see out his two-year tenure as Sables coach after the Zimbabwe Rugby Union resolved at the weekend to retain his services despite the team’s failure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

There had been mounting speculation over the future of the former Springboks coach following the Sables pathetic run in which their World Cup dream had been blown away by the halfway stage of the of Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign.

This year’s Gold Cup tournament was also serving as the qualifier for next year’s World Cup showcase in Japan.

Instead of aiming for a World Cup berth, the Sables ended up fighting relegation from the Gold Cup, only managing to avoid demotion on the last day of the qualifiers with a victory over Uganda in Kampala.

Zimbabwe finished fifth on the six-team log with eight points, a point behind third-placed Uganda while basement nation Morocco were demoted to the Silver Group.

It was also agreed that more support measures and structures be put in place to help ease De Villiers’ task and those of other various national coaches.

The no-holds-barred indaba at Chaplin High School in Gweru also came up with a number of key resolutions, which if fully implemented, point to a return of better days for the domestic game.

The ZRU board meets here times a year while union president Aaron Jani’s executive committee is the highest decision-making body between such meetings.

Leaders of ZRU’s structures which include includes Women rugby chairperson, all provincial chairmen, representatives of high schools, primary schools, tag rugby, sevens, chairman of referees and the representative of the athletes’ commission make up the board.

The executive comprises Jani, his two deputies, treasurer and the chief executive.

A damning WhatsApp group chat which leaked into the public domain and which bordered on unethical conduct as it involved people in key ZRU structures such as vice-president Losson Mtongwiza, former coach Godwin Murambiwa and ex-captain Costa Dinha had, however, threatened to divide the rugby family.

Jani, in outlining the resolutions of the ZRU indaba, remained optimistic that they they will emerge stronger for the 2019 season as they seek to build from the harsh lessons they learnt this year.

“As you can imagine where people gather to deliberate, views are diverse. In the end the majority prevail in any democratic institution and this what happened,” Jani said.

Both Jani and De Villiers will know that the Sables will once again be under the spotlight even if the Sables Gold Cup campaign will not be a World Cup qualifier.

Crucially for ZRU is the announcement by Jani that they were reviving the national league, the foundation upon any national team is built.

“Saturday 29th September we had our third board meeting for the year. It was lengthy but very fruitful. The matter that dominated the deliberations was our Gold Cup campaign.

“The board felt that perhaps our goal to win the Gold Cup was too ambitious given the background of where we were coming from. We had no proper league structures to support the campaign and no strength and conditioning structures.

“The board also noted that we performed well below expectations, but there were good signs towards the last two games especially Namibia and Uganda. Given the youthfulness of our squad, the board was encouraged and optimistic about the future as we saw purpose and structure in these games,” Jani said.

“As far as speculation on the coach (De Villiers) was concerned, the board resolved to continue with the two-year contract that we have with the coach. We have decided to strengthen the support and systems around the coach as follows:

“We will have a very strong and competitive national league comprising six teams. To qualify to compete, each team must present a women’s side and an Under-21 side as a precondition

We resolved to apply to SARU for entrance into the SuperSport Challenge

We also resolved to strengthen the selection panel

The Zimbabwe Academy structures are now operational which will serve as an incubator for talent and the first game for our Under-23 Academy will be in November against Naka Bulls from South Africa,” Jani said.

De Villiers’ former assistant Brendon Dawson who has been overseeing the academy will take charge of the Zimbabwe Under-23 team in those matches against Naka Bulls scheduled for Hartsfield Ground, Bulawayo, on November 14 and 17.

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