Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Opinion: My home nation, Zimbabwe

Special Report by Benedict Chanakira for A Rugby Life

African sport is unfortunately mostly riddled with player-management rows, corruption, money issues and many more petty arguments. It’s a pity politics is embroiled in all sports. Sport is one of the most effective ways to unite people, but only if it is to be run properly. These are some of the issues that have riddled nations, but I want to talk more about my home nation Zimbabwe, also know as the Sables.

The Zimbabwe Sables  (Credit: ZimEye.org)
The Windhoek Draught Tri-Nations Rugby Series which included Zimbabwe, hosts Namibia, and Kenya. Bar the two-time World Cup Champions South Africa these are the next three best sides in African Rugby. The opening fixture featured what most called a dress rehearsal for the World Cup qualifier to take place next year in 2014. There is one ticket left for the African sides and Namibia has the advantage after winning yet another game against their counterparts. They have not lost to Zimbabwe since 2001. A closer look at it Namibia have regressed a little and this is the perfect opportunity for their counterparts to pounce.

Zimbabwe has started to rebuild and like most nations also hold the dream to go to the World Cup. Do not get me wrong, Namibia is favorites to go through but an upset is likely. Zimbabwe has recently appointed Liam Middleton as Director of rugby with the aid of the IRB. An experienced Rugby man who has a prestigious record and was being part of the England Rugby set up for some years. Eyes will eagerly await what beautiful things he will bring to the country’s rugby fraternity.

An influx of players has begun to return and the new Sables side has great balance between youth and experience. Some quality players as well. Some would wonder where they have been all these years. A few more games together before the World Cup qualifiers and I believe they will be able to cause a stir. In both matches against Namibia and Kenya, Zimbabwe led at the break. High intensity maintained during the first 40, which faded in the second stanza in both games. If this can be rectified and a bit more work on set pieces we could be on a sharp rise. Through the aid of our neighbors we have developed some great players. Some ply their trade in Zimbabwe, while some play for nations such as South Africa, Germany, USA to mention a few.

The ZRU must find a way to constantly monitor all of its players that are eligible for the national squad. I understand its not a professional sport in Zimbabwe, but the ability to have players in for a training camp longer than two weeks would help the team. The 7s game is on the right path and occasionally is taking on the best in the world. This has been yet another reason for the rise in the arena. Zimbabwe schools rugby has been generally good; this in turn produces a very good craven week side and allows for exposure to some of our junior players. Most of them get lost, while some remain on the radar and will represent the senior side one day.

We are a nation laden with talent and implementation of structures, a fair chance to all; and we can resurrect the already steady rise of the Zimbabwean Sables.

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