Rebuilding Zimbabwe Rugby


Benedict Chanakira looks at the problems and way forward for Zimbabwe rugby….

Zimbabwe Rugby Union
Zimbabwe Rugby Union

Bitter-sweet taste in my mouth. I must admit there is a little, just a little joyful vibe that we failed to make the Rugby World Cup. A 23-15 lose to Russia in a Repechage semi-final in Siberia all but ended the dream. There was disruption unfortunately in the build up to the match as Zimbabwe had key players pull out for various reasons, the national coaches’ wife  was also set to travel as part of the squad which was an area of dispute highlighted by the media. In the light of the situation those are matters not meant to be the headlines. While management constantly faced abuse and among them racial abuse. For them to succeed would have been an unjust reward to an undeserving public.

Its the perfect opportunity to rebuild to return to the basics.  Having received an influx of quality players in the form of Guy Cronje and Lambert Groenewald will they be the two we rebuild around? Will their availability be a matter of concern? What was shown in the last two months is Zimbabwe have the talent and all that is needed is direction and co-operation from all those involved (players, management,  fans and corporate world).

While finance has been the main reason failure has been attributed to by some it is good to put it all into perspective.  Sides have managed to perform with limited resources.  Look at the Costa Rica World Cup squad? Finances don’t always bring success.  They spent $3,4 million compared to England’s $765 million in the development of the game. Yes, finance assists in the campaign but so much more can be thrown into the pot of success. The Union managed to get us to the Qualifications and bar the decision to not to go for a lineout we would have been at the World Cup. A decision that will haunt us forever but one we will learn from.

Our failure was due to much more than financial support. A place at the World Cup would have seen all the dust and fleas swept under the mat. Its time to restructure and sort all the chaos in our game. From communication channels to the long-term vision of the Sport. Come up with a four year plan to attain the 2019 World Cup spot. Is there a constitution?  While majority of us are in the dark, we hope the public will be enlightened to where next for Rugby in Zimbabwe.

Whatever happens we await to see what direction our country takes in the pursuit of dominance once again. We appreciate the nation is Tier 2 but so much can be implemented and instilled to take the game forward.

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Would love to see Zim rugby (and cricket) step back up a few notches… just not until there has been regime change…

  2. People have a tendency to blame their failures on race. the coaches are abused continually by 60-80 characters daily. its sad.

  3. @Morné: I have been hoping to do so. all year waiting to be of help. planning a return to South Africa. Hope Zimbabwe finally blossoms one day.

  4. @bchanakira2:

    If you get a foot in, try and sell them the following to re-build:

    * Start an elite program at U16 level for the top 78 boys (two squads of 39 – will explain that later) and get them on a conditioning program – or just start at 39 even.
    * Register them on some form of database to record and track their progress
    * Track their development specifically towards conditioning but also position specific skills development
    * Give them programs to follow and assess them at least once a year
    * Do the same with your U18’s but only your top 39
    * Do the same with your seniors also only 39
    * Get a national scouting system going at all age-groups from U16 to senior level

    You will have a elite group of players (which you add and cut from every year with the help of your scouting system) of around 160 players which will become your core and backbone. These players follow specific conditioning programs to make sure they are properly conditioned for the game of rugby – this is the most vital aspect of getting things right.

    Your U16’s and U18’s already compete at our Craven Weeks which can be used as a tool to measure them. Your U20’s can compete in one of the many African tournaments (even Seven’s tournaments) to improve their skills and match conditioning.

    From there you get your seniors together 2 or 3 times a year for a two-week camp outside of competitions.

    If you get the right systems in place, you can do this or run this program for under R10-mil a year.

    The program they follow or how you communicate with them (and them to you) is web based, so they can be based anywhere.

    In 2 years you will see results and players that were U18 will now be able to compete at U20 and senior rugby.

    You will be competitive.

    On the squads of 39:

    1 to 15 x 2 (prop to fullback) = two full teams
    Extra front row = 3
    Extra lock = 1
    Extra loosie = 1
    Extra scrummy = 1
    Extra flyhalf = 1
    Extra centre = 1
    Extra outside back = 1

    Total = 39

  5. @Morné: I need your email. I have put something in that light to the union and its turned out sour. They will not change. For now we wait.

  6. @bchanakira2:

    Wasn’t long ago Glenwood and a few others were busted for the same thing… but just nowhere near this scale…

    Is Peterhouse still up there as a rugby school?

    I guess Craven week bans would be a start? Or is it impossible without ‘real’ birth certificates/identification documents?

  7. @bryce_in_oz: Peterhouse is one of the best. I am not racist but the schools run by the non-blacks do their things straight and clean. Unfortunately our race wont be patient in a process and let alone forever blaming color as a cause for suspension . A ban would result in government interference. Not ideal let alone the Union would not listen. Head of schools rugby are aware but the journo actually just took the blog post and threw it into the national paper. A smart guy would have collaborated with me and we would have got the births and done the expose.