Mtongwiza feels he has the rugby plan LOSSON MTONGWIZA

Tinashe Kusema

LOSSON MTONGWIZA feels he has a grand plan to turn on the magic for Zimbabwe Rugby Union and the seasoned administrator has been working under the belief that his ideas seem to be falling on deaf ears.

It is against this background that the outgoing ZRU vice-president (North) has decided to challenge for the presidency.

He is one of four candidates seeking to lead the ZRU.

“I have spent the last 20 years or so in rugby administration, and all the positions I have served in have been supportive posts in which I tried to give ideas on how to improve rugby and assist in the growth of the sport.

“However, I have seen that some of those ideas and suggestions were not being taken seriously and as such, I have since decided that now it is time for me to put my hand up and do it by myself,” Mtongwiza said.

He identified four key areas which he feels will take the sport to the next level.

The Old Hararians rugby club president has anchored his manifesto on administration, high performance, infrastructure, and governance.

“I have come up with a comprehensive programme that I am going to use and sell to the electorate.

“The goal is to sit down, iron out the kinks, and come up with a blueprint to use to grow the sport.

“As a member of the outgoing administration, I think it is important for someone like me to be in the position (of the president) as I have been in the game for a long time and understand some of the areas that were developed by Mr. Jani and can finish those that were left hanging.

“I can also create new programmes and fix areas that I think the outgoing administration, and those before, left hanging.

“Simple things like governance require us to ensure that there is equality and, last year, I developed the gender and equity policy.

“Unfortunately, it was never taken seriously and now I want to put it as part of the constitution of Zimbabwe rugby so that we make sure that there is equality in the game.’’

Mtongwiza said he would advocate for amendments to the ZRU constitution.

“While we are at it, we are also going to clean up the ZRU constitution, there are a couple of glaring things that have been left hanging and need to be sorted.

“We need to consolidate our financials so that our Sables, Lady Sables, Cheetahs, and Under-20s’ financials are put together and then audited.

“ZRU do not have offices and they have not had a ground of their own since the late nineties when they lost their lease to the Police Grounds,” he said.

“As such I intend to make a deliberate effort to secure, adopt, and upgrade a field.

“I wish to acquire a long lease on a piece of land where we will build union offices where the grounds will be. This area will also encompass a gym and dining hall, and this will ensure that whatever team is in camp will have a place to practice, eat, and rest from that same premise.

World Rugby have since announced that the World Cup will expand to 24 teams, while a new Nations Championship tournament is set to be launched.

The change to the men’s World Cup will come into effect from the next edition of the tournament in Australia in 2027, while the Nations Championship will begin in 2026.

Mtongwiza hopes to capitalise on World Rugby’s initiative and sees it as a chance for the country to finally make it to the global showcase.

“In anticipation of the tournament that World Rugby have said is coming, I anticipate that we will qualify for the World Cup as either number one or two, and we could be possibly put in the Nations tournament.

“We will need to play at our grounds and this has to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“In terms of administration, I intend to engage a director of rugby and make this a full-time position with key performance indicators.

“I also intend to engage a director of high performance and while we are still looking for the funding this will be a part-time position.”

He is also hopeful of securing an international corporate partner for ZRU. “This is to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of Zimbabwe rugby which we will see us selling broad-cast rights, sponsorship rights, and running events in partnership with this partner’’.

His development plans evolve around setting up high-performance centres.

“I also want to create three high-performance hubs in Harare, Mutare, and Bulawayo, where we will engage a maximum of 150 children from around the country and put them into a gym programme, put them on a nutritional diet, and employ sports science for their performance.

“This will be before and after their seasonal training, and the idea here is to prepare these kids for that Nations Tournament and also help them prepare themselves for scouts.

“We are going to make a deliberate effort to interest them to play rugby on a professional basis, and we will look at touring countries like South Africa. “Plans are afoot to sign a deal with two professional franchises in South Africa, and they will assist us in player development, expertise exchange, annual tours, and development courses,” he said.

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