Former Warriors coach John Rugg no more

HARARE – FORMER Zimbabwe national football team coach John Rugg is no more, reports. Rugg famous for the success of the famous midlands football club Rio Tinto, where legends like Joseph Zulu, Robert Godoka, Graham Boyle, Ephert Lungu and many others who graced the turf of Zimbabwean football in the late 70s and 80s.

He died in Scotland on August 7, 2008. He was 71.

Former national team captain Ephert Lungu, one of Rugg’s best-known products, broke the news of the coach’s death this week.

"It’s sad to learn that John Rugg, or JR as we called him, is dead.

"I knew that he had not been feeling well for some time and had returned to Scotland where he died on August 7.

"I met his wife, Hazel, just three weeks ago and she informed me that JR died some time ago and has since been cremated.

"JR left Zimbabwe last year to settle in Scotland," said Lungu.

Lungu, the 1983 Soccer Star of the Year, said he was still trying to come to terms with Rugg’s death.

"Yes, he died in August, but I only got to know of his death recently and I am sure millions of other Zimbabweans are unaware of that.

"My condolences really go to his wife and children.

"I regarded JR like a father and I am still trying to come to terms with the situation," said Lungu.

The former Rio Tinto defender said Rugg turned him into the person that he is today.

"It was Rugg who took me from a Division Three side Shamrock Mine to play for Rio Tinto.

"He just saw me playing one day and said I was the type of player he was looking for.

"I went straight from Division Three to feature in the first team at Rio Tinto which was in the Super League without having played in Division Two or One.

"It was Rugg who gave me the confidence and reason to believe in myself," he said.

Now after hanging his boots in the 1980s, Lungu took a back seat from the limelight and is now a manager at Muriel Mine in Chinhoyi.

His son Elasto Lungu-Kapowezha is playing in South Africa at FC AK.

While Lungu remains one of Rugg’s finest products, the Scotman also worked with Victor Mapanda, Gilbert Phiri, Robert Godoka, Joshua Phiri at Rio Tinto and Sunday Chidzambwa, Shacky Tauro, Japhet Mparutsa, Stanley Ndunduma and David Mandigora in the national team.

His death comes in the same year with that of another former Warriors’ coach Reinhard Fabisch who passed away in July.

Rugg was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and played for Berwick Rangers from 1958 where Danny McLennan was coach.

Three years later, Rugg moved to another Scottish top league side Queen of the South and then to Hibernia.

In 1964, Rugg moved to South Africa where he played for Durban City and the following year, he captained a South African select, the Castle Knights, against Real Madrid at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.

He stayed with Durban City for three years.

His next stop was at Maritzburg, where Rugg became player-coach for the team before moving to Zimbabwe in 1969 where he joined Rufaro, still as player-coach.

In 1972, Rugg moved to Rio Tinto as a part-time coach, but eventually fell in love with the Kadoma side and he transformed the gold miners into one of the top clubs in the country then.

Rugg was appointed the caretaker national team coach for the then Rhodesia in June 1973, taking over from McLennan who had left for Iran a week earlier.

He left the post after two years, but returned in 1977 and held on to the post during the transition into an independent Zimbabwe.

"Icing Sugar", as he was nicknamed during his playing days, Rugg quit his post after a rift with Zifa who had failed to pay the players in camp, including current national team coach Sunday Chidzambwa who was the skipper then.

Rugg continued with his on-and-off relationship with the Warriors, assuming the post of technical director and later Under-23 coach in 1991.

In 1992, Rugg was appointed director of the proposed Zifa Academy, working with the late Fabisch, but the project never took off.