Olonga to appeal again

Ndamu Sandu

TEMPERAMENTAL Sables captain Victor Olonga will have to appeal again against suspension slapped on him last year over alleged mobilisation of players to boycott a match against Madagascar.
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His lawyers, Muzangaza Mandaza and Tomana legal practitioners however told IndependentSport this week that the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) had informed them that their appeal would not stand before the executive.

“ZRU, through their lawyers Coghlan Welsh & Guest wrote to us saying our appeal would not stand before the ZRU executive since they had ratified the findings of the executive committee set up to probe reasons behind the cancellation of the match,” the lawyers said.


“They told us we need new facts to appeal and we have written to Olonga informing him of the latest developments.”


The outspoken Olonga was suspended last August for allegedly mobilising national team players to boycott a crucial first round match of the rugby Africa Cup against Madagascar in July last year.


ZRU went on to cancel the tie arguing that players had refused to play the crucial match.


In a hastily arranged press conference, then ZRU President Lawrence Majuru said the union had applied to the Africa Rugby Board and International Rugby Board (IRB) for the cancellation of the match because players had refused to play at a venue chosen by the union.


“This development (cancellation) has arisen as a result of Zimbabwe players refusing to play the game at a designated venue, that being Harare Sports Club, because they believe the pitch is sub-standard,” Majuru said.

Olonga in his defence said senior players had not refused to play the match but had complained about the state of the pitch.


Rugby experts said this week the Olonga case would be a litmus test for the Bryn Williams-led executive that took over the reins last year.

They say the executive has an insurmountable task to bring the sport to a better keel and improve players’ morale.


Morale within ZRU rank and file hit rock-bottom when then Sables coach Godwin Murambiwa resigned in acrimonious circumstances in June.

Murambiwa, who took over from Mark Donato in 2001, threw in the towel citing irreconcilable differences with the executive.


Alex Nicholls who took over the reins barely lasted a week.

There were complaints that players’ grievances were not addressed leading to deterioration of performance.


Efforts to contact Williams were fruitless as he was said to be on leave.

“He is on leave and try to call tomorrow,” said her secretary.