SABLES coach Cyprian Mandenge has been reinstated as the Zimbabwe national fifteens rugby team coach, barely a month after he was reportedly pushed following a string of poor results.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) leadership met in Harare on Friday to deliberate on the new coach after advertising the post last month in the wake of the decision to part ways with Mandenge.
And in a dramatic turn of events, the board decided to reinstate Mandenge, who had reapplied for the post and emerged as one of the front runners together with his predecessor Brendan Dawson.
ZRU vice president Noddy Kanyangarara said the board felt Mandenge needed to be given another opportunity to prove himself and they had given him the freedom to appoint his own backroom staff.
“Cyprian Mandenge has bounced back as the Sables coach. The ZRU board made its decision to give Mandenge another opportunity after last week’s special general meeting in Harare. The board resolved that he will bring in his own backroom staff and I’m sure he is working on it right now as he has very limited time before the Cup of Nations Tournament in Hong Kong in November,” Kanyangarara said.
Mandenge, who in June this year secured a World Rugby Level Three coaching qualification, said he was glad to be given a second opportunity to make amends but called on all rugby stakeholders to work together for the better of the game.
“We are not in a good position at the moment and I have a lot of work to do to ensure that we take back our rugby where it belongs. My appeal to the nation is that let’s support the ZRU board and the coaches who are there,” he said.
“We need everyone’s support, former players, former Sables coaches, I need their support. In the past we’ve had a problem of wanting to see the guy fail because they also want that position but let’s look at the bigger which is our rugby. If they are not happy with anything my door is open and I’m very much willing to work with anyone and any player who wants to play for the national team no matter where they are I’m prepared to have a look at them.” he said.
After receiving a fresh mandate, Mandenge’s immediate task will be to prepare the Sables for the 2016 Cup of Nations tournament in Hong Kong in November.
The 2016 Cup of Nations tournament seeks to provide greater preparation for teams to play in their regional competitions, especially with this year’s participants aiming to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup or to make the global showcase repechage in November 2018.
Zimbabwe will be joined in the tournament by the hosts Hong Kong, reigning champions Russia, and Papua New Guinea who are new to the tournament.
The tournament will also provide Mandenge with an opportunity to start his rebuilding process before the 2017 season, where the Sables need to make a quick return to the Africa Cup Group 1A if they stand a chance of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The winner of the top-tier group in African rugby in 2018 will automatically book a place in the World Cup while the runners-up will have another chance of qualifying via the Rugby World Cup global repechage in November 2018.