By Trevor Makonyonga
What started as a colourful campaign packaging for the Sables might have begun to bear fruits as the Zimbabwe male rugby teams dismantled Northern neighbours, Zambia in games played this past week. The games were played on June 2 and June 5 respectively and on both days, the U20 and senior men’s team established total dominance over the eagles of Zambia.
Zimbabwe U20 beat Zambia 45 – 08 and 65 – 12 respectively whilst in the seniors Zimbabwe won 32 – 08 before a 56 – 03 demolition which happened on Saturday, June 5.
The Zambians managed to get the better of Zimbabwe in the ladies division where they posted two victories. In the first game the visitors won 32 – 21 and the second game they, once again, won 38 – 17.
These results seem very amazing and will garnish the vision outlined by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) which is to qualify for the 2023 rugby World Cup. This vision is not far fetched but there could some serious steps that need to be taken before the nation starts to celebrate and relax. In all fairness, it was just Zambia and there is need to prepare for the bigger guns like Namibia, Kenya and Uganda.
Having dormant leagues is something that could play against the outlined vision and it could shrink the pool of selection as local players have been not playing actively for close to two years. Off course there could be an argument that they camped and they got time to sync and managed to pick up victories but is this sustainable when playing against tougher opponents? Maybe the could be and one awaits to see how it goes.
The issue of selection has been a topical one for many years as it seems that the Union often relies on trials. This reporter had a conversation with former Sables under 18 manager Nyasha Muchochomi who said that maybe it was time to have selectors.
He said, “One of the challenges with our selection process is we don’t keep a common data base which is known to ZRU, if any, we need to have a central database where we keep names of talented kids. I think it’s a matter of awaiting on trials it should be ongoing. We should have a group of selectors who watch games and give pointers and feedback to kids after games and update the database. I think national team coaches generally are not doing their homework in identifying the correct talent well before they are appointed. It’s almost like people get appointed first then they go to look for the talent. That’s too late but however, if that situation happens those individuals are not consting the individuals that are watching the rugby. There is also a need to tell, when we select someone for their role to be clear when they are selected. Not everyone needs to be fast, not everyone needs to tackle hard everyone can have a role. We underestimate the role of a selector or a talent identifier which is separate to a coach to often we have people duplicating those roles. Each coach is somewhat of a selector, at international level we need to separate this. In New Zealand they often talk of the All blacks selector, no one really knows them but we know the head coach. So the All blacks coach works as the convener, he works with a panel that selects these players. As a country that’s where we could improve.”
The current crop of players seems to be on the upward spiral and that could be enough to build a structure on. It could be a perfect group to start exploring all possibilities with.
Going forward, Zimbabwe needs all the best that there is to be incorporated in this 2023 dream.
From the last two games, one could see that Zambia was contesting rucks better and tackling better but what they lacked by and large was technical knowhow. Zimbabwe has to improve there. Maybe there is still one last dance for Tichafara Makwanya and Ernest Mudzengerere as the two provide different skillsets that could be essential for the team’s progress.
Overall, ever since the branding and packaging of the team begun good things seem to be ahead of us. With less politics and cartel propaganda, 2023 can be a reality. There is just need to drop the recurring habits.