BRITISH coach Collin Osborne, who left his assistant role at English Premiership club Harlequins in July, could be the next Zimbabwe coach as speculation over Peter de Villiers’ future rises.
By Enock Muchinjo
Talk swirled around this week that former Springbok coach de Villiers might leave on mutual agreement after one year of his two-year contract.
St Kitts-born Osborne was until July Harlequins’ skills coach, having been with the club since 1996.
Osborne is not new to Zimbabwe. He was the country’s national coach between 1993 and 1996. Before coaching the Sables, Osborne had previously worked in Zimbabwe as the country’s director of rugby and development from 1987 to 1990.
Spending two decades on the coaching staff of a top-flight English club is testimony of his highly-rated coaching skills, and indeed he was the favourite early this year to be appointed Sables coach until de Villiers emerged into the picture on the last minute to sign a deal that attracted unprecedented global media coverage for Zimbabwean rugby.
Osborne has maintained a close affinity with Zimbabwe, which he regularly visits to see friends and family members resident in the country.
In making a name for himself in rugby, Osborne is rare amongst sportsmen with origin in the West Indies — a place where cricket, football and athletics rule the roost. Osborne is also passionate about the development of rugby in Africa.
Ghana’s national rugby association has hailed him as one of the brains behind the fast-improving minnows’ success in recent times. Ghana, who are coached by Zimbabwean Lovemore “Dallas” Kuzorera, have benefited from the coaching consultancy of Osborne.
The Ghanaians qualified for the second-tier of African rugby, the Silver Cup, where they would have faced Zimbabwe next season had the Sables not survived the chop.
The head of Ghana’s federation, Herbert Mensah — who played rugby at school in England — also turned out for Old Hararians in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, where he first met Osborne.