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Players should face the game

A BIT of a brainteaser for all you rugby fans to start with: who is the All Blacks captain?

Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo

Too easy! Kieran Read, of course!

But who is the president of New Zealand’s national rugby association?

This one will sure send you to your search engine, as happened last week when Russell Karimazondo, the interim Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president, surprised me with the puzzle, totally catching me unawares.

Despite heading the world’s best rugby country — where the sport is deeply embedded in the nation’s psyche — you will be surprised how very little comes out if you Google about David Rhodes, current president of New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

In fact, other people named David Rhodes come out more prominently. Even his other namesake Cecil Rhodes, the notorious British colonialist, has more stuff on the Internet, 121 years after he was buried in this country.
Quite interesting, it is, how someone running a very successful sport can be so much of a background figure.
This is also Karimazondo’s preferred style, he tells me.

The moment administrators steal the limelight from the players, he feels, they would have lost the plot.

When the glare of publicity turns on those running the game, then it means there is something wrong they are doing.

But when administrators stay in the background, where they belong, it means things are smooth-sailing so the public’s focus is on what is happening on the field of play rather than the boardroom.

So for Karimazondo, he would rather have the attention go to Denford Mutamangira, the Sables captain, or Hilton Mudariki, the Cheetahs captain.

What was supposed to be an interview with Karimazondo ended up as a relaxed chat — about the game, its potential, pretty much how he intended to turn around fortunes of the game.

He spoke bluntly about the undesirable situation at the ZRU, the slapdash way of doing things, the shocking lack of professionalism — generally an administration style that just does not belong to this era.

Karimazondo has played the game and is into business. He can easily relate to a cross-section of people in the rugby and business worlds, in both public and private sectors.

He brings the best of both worlds and I think he must be supported by all.

Rugby just needs to get its house in order, get over pettiness and personalities. It is an infection that has taken over the sport. Because of that, the game has lost its perspective.

There is a lot to gain if attitudes change. Zimbabwe needs to go back to the World Cup for the first time in over two decades.

The Japan 2019 goal is within reach if all pull in the same direction.

But people who want to share the dream and support the vision must see stability in sport before investing their emotions, time and money.

The amount of goodwill out there is unbelievable.

Karimazondo says he wants to tap into that goodwill and turn around the game and, for that, he has my full support.

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