Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
AFTER a week of soul-searching following the Sables pathetic Africa Gold Cup campaign, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union have announced a raft of measures, including sacrificing assistant coach Brendon Dawson, in a move they believe will make the senior team more competitive.
The Sables are without a win in three of their Gold Cup matches and, with these games also serving as the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, Zimbabwe have found themselves fighting more for their survival in the pool rather for a place at the showpiece in Japan.
Coach Peter De Villiers would now have to choose a new assistant from the locals while a selection committee panel headed by the Sables technical committee will also assist the former Springboks mentor.
The ZRU soul-searching exercise began with meetings at board level before the leadership met with the coaches and players for a three-hour indaba at Prince Edward on Tuesday.
Yesterday, ZRU president Aaron Jani, flanked by Sables Trust chairman Gerald Mlotshwa, team manager Derek Chiwara and two players Farai Mudariki and Tapfuma Parirenyatwa announced the steps they have taken to address the problems that have been triggered by the national team’s free-fall.
Jani also noted that expecting the Sables to easily secure a World Cup ticket against the background of a dark past for domestic rugby was always an audacious bid.
“Numerous events have taken place in the last couple of weeks that have forced us to relook at how we are doing business and whether the current structures are fit for purpose.
‘’We have come to the conclusion that some changes are necessary for us to deliver our primary mandate, which is promoting the game of rugby and creating a conducive environment for rugby to thrive.
‘’These changes are designed to achieve the following:
Prioritise development and long-term goals
Instil discipline in all our communication structures
Eliminate overlapping structures
Increase efficiency and accountability
Take steps to avoid relegation’’.
Jani said they had re-assigned Dawson, who has previously coached and captained the Sables, to take charge of the Under-23 side which would now form the basis of the future senior team.
Given that such players like flanker Fortune Chipendu and captain Denford Mutamangira are already above 30, the Sables seem to have taken a cue from the Cheetahs who have already begun working with more youthful players in the Sevens team.
De Villiers and his men now have two tough games against runaway leaders Namibia (home) and basement side Uganda away to secure results that could save them from demotion.
“In order to maintain a place in the top tiers for the Africa Cup we believe it is prudent to focus on grassroots development, and for this reason we have appointed VP North Losson Mtongwiza to take charge of that portfolio.