Former Sables captain Costa Dinha has attributed the team’s slump to lack of a competitive national league.
BY Kevin Mapasure
Shayne Makombe in action
The Zimbabwe national 15s rugby side have endured a nightmare campaign in the Africa Rugby Gold Cup, where they currently face relegation, having failed to win a single match.
They have to win their last match away to Uganda on August 18 to stand a chance of staying afloat in the top-tier group.
Dinha absolved both the technical team and players from blame, saying lack of league structures was the root cause of the team’s slide.
“I don’t think we can blame either the coaches or the players in this situation although I think there are some players who could have been involved in this campaign who were left out,” Dinha said.
“If you look at the history of the game in Zimbabwe, we always do well when we have our league running. We need to have a national league and then the national team will sort itself out. You can rely on foreign-based players, but it’s still important to have a national league running if the national team is to be successful.”
He said that the changes that the coaches made to bring in Shayne Makombe and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo were a positive development, but he felt they should have been made earlier.
“I think those changes should have been done earlier and I feel there is a lot of talent out there that should have been considered.” Dinha added that if the team manages to survive, there is need to start working on a five-year programme for the next qualifiers.
“Surviving will be a tall order, but if we do, then we should start working on the programme for the next World Cup. We should identify players that we should work with until the next qualifiers. I think we can survive, the players have started to gel well and the changes have improved the team. The Uganda game will be a very close one and for our players, it’s a mental battle since they will be playing away.”
The 2018 international rugby season promised lots of excitement and possibly success for Zimbabwean rugby before it kicked off, but it is set to end with a whimper, if not embarrassment.
The arrival of Peter de Villiers as the coach for the national 15s side was met with a lot of approval, triggering high expectation, as the Sables entered the race for the top prize and more importantly, a ticket to the 2019 International Rugby Board World Cup, whose final will be staged in Japan.
Zimbabwe had come out of a difficult season under the mentorship of Cyprian Mandenge, who was dismissed after a poor showing in 2017, where Zimbabwe only managed to avoid relegation to the second-tier.