Falkenberg steps down

Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe Rugby Union vice-president Nyarai Sibanda is tipped to take over the Zimbabwe Rugby Union top job after current president John Falkenberg indicated he would not run for another term of office. The ZRU annual meeting is set to take place on March 24 in an elective year that will see current Falkenberg stepping down for Sibanda as the Union and its board members are looking for continuity within the office.

The meeting had been delayed after the Sports Commission indicated they needed to correct a number for sections in their constitution and also due to a financial audit of the Unions books that have to be presented at the annual Indaba.

According to a release from the ZRU office the meeting will take place at the Prince Edward School pavilion Thursday March 24 starting at 11am. However, key at the indaba would be the re-election of a new president after Falkenberg indicated since 2014 that he would not run for another four year term.

The former Sables assistant coach feels he has done his bit. “I would like to see my final term through as the Zimbabwe rugby president. “There are quite a number of things I am committed to in our Union and that is why I have to make sure I complete the projects I started, to make it easy for the incoming team,” said Falkenberg.

Falkenberg has been through almost every level of local rugby from being a junior coach as he was part of the Young Sables as an assistant coach to current director of rugby Brighton Chivandire, he helped Old Georgians Sport Club win their first rugby league title in more than 20 years.

In 2012 he was elected as the ZRU president, taking over from Thembilenkosini “Themba” Sibanda who he served as his vice president in the previous board, promising he was going to bring a substantial amount of sponsorship to the ZRU.

However, during his term the biggest deal he managed to bring for the ZRU was the Old Mutual sponsorship that is largely aimed at developing junior talent in high density suburbs – before the Sables failed to make it for the World Cup.

The sponsorship also brought a new dimension in the selection of players for the junior tournament played in South Africa namely the Under-18 Craven Week tournament, the Under-17 Grant Khomo tournament and the Under-14 Craven Week tournament.

With all of the local players who take part in these tournaments selected from schools and the ZRU under financial problems, players had to pay for their own airfares, which in some cases would deprive an unfortunate player from representing the country for failing to raise air fares.

But the Old Mutual deal erased all that as they are now taking care of the travel expenses for all three teams including their technical staff -making way for the best talent to be selected at national trials.

The biggest administrative battle he had to face was when the just resigned director of rugby Liam Middleton wrestled coaches out of their jobs as he wanted to take over, this disturbing the momentum in both the Sables ad the Cheetahs camps.

The Sables failed to make it for the World Cup while Cheetahs coach Gilbert “Gidza” Nyamutsamba was re-instated amid resistance from a divided ZRU board after failing to make it as a core member under Middleton.

When the former Young Sables assistant coach came into power, he launched an ambitious project that would see the ZRU have a national junior academy under the directorship of Australian rugby legend David Campese – but this has also failed to materialise.

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