|Natural talent driving rugby|
|Saturday, 21 July 2012 00:00|
ZIMBABWE rugby seems to finally have awaken from its deep slumber to reclaim its right position in Africa rugby given the success stories that the sport has witnessed over the past few years.
Financial constraints continue to haunt the sport and this has forced the Zimbabwe Rugby Union to withdraw the country’s flagship teams’ participation in the Victoria Cup — less than a week after lifting the Africa Cup.
Effectively this has ended the Sables international season after only TWO games — a sad story for the development of the game that needs a lot of exposure to be more competitive if they are to qualify for the 2015 World Cup.
Rugby has slowly been getting back on its feet over the past few years rising from Group 1C in 2009 to win the Group 1A Africa Cup title last week and the big question remains: “What is the driving force”?
Some players have realised that it is increasingly getting more difficult to play for other countries’ national teams and in order to feel Test rugby they have resorted to playing for Zimbabwe.
After finishing high school, most of the players in the country opt to go out of Zimbabwe for their college or higher education mostly in South Africa and England where they get rugby scholarships.
It’s sad that in Zimbabwe sport is effectively not considered important at tertiary and university level and there are no such rugby scholarships at local institutions.
The last team to make headlines was the University of Zimbabwe rugby side at the turn of the millennium under coach Cyprian “Supa” Mandenge as they gained promotion into the league.
In South Africa, for example, they have the Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield competitions and this bridges the gap between schools and the senior level.
Even at club level, there is no league that caters for high school graduate players and this is the reason why some of the few players that remain in Zimbabwe after high school opt not to continue playing the game.
No club has a junior development policy where they adopt teams from certain schools.
The story is the same for the coaches.
Coaches — like players — need to be exposed to the outside world,
The ZRU does not even have a plan on coaching development; there are no guidelines as to the brand of rugby Zimbabwe needs to play, how the coaches are expected to implement that brand of rugby and how they are going to develop.
Most of the coaches have been involved with Zimbabwe rugby for a long time but they have not had a chance to go out and meet more qualified coaches.
They have not had a chance to learn from the professionals and at the end of the day they are stuck with the same old stuff and left behind rugby tactics.
If the current crop of coaches who include Sables coach Brandon Dawson, Nsikelelo Sibanda, Brighton Chivandire, Mandenge and Godwin “Jaws” Murambiwa, for one reason or the other drop from the game, noone will take over.
This is why the ZRU need to be grooming future coaches, sending them to gain experience about how the job is done in other Unions, not for two weeks but long spells.
This ensures that the coaches come back home well equipped and they have to implement that knowledge — having a coaching certificate is great but experience and exposure in professional set-ups tells the tale.
At the end of the day it could be fair to say that natural talent is largely all that is carrying Zimbabwe’s day in the game.
Former Cheetahs player Douglas Trivella rightly noted that.
“Everyone says we have a lot of natural talent in Zimbabwe but there is no point saying we have a lot of it and not do anything about it.
“We have a lot of potential and it’s very raw but if we do not tap into it at a young age nothing is going to happen.
“It’s like when you are cooking a meal and the food is lying on the side until you cook it, it’s not going to cook itself,” said Trivella.