By Enock Muchinjo
FORMER Springbok flying winger Tonderai Chavhanga could launch his coaching career with his native Zimbabwe after being approached with an offer to assist the national team in South Africa’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
Leaked information reveals that the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has requested the 35-year-old record-breaking Bok to deputise former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Dawson on a technical bench set to lead the local side in its debut season in the second-tier competition of South African rugby.
The move further alienates Peter de Villiers, whose relationship with the ZRU has spectacularly turned sour following the former Springbok coach’s failure to guide Zimbabwe to the World Cup in Japan in September and November.
So irreconcilable the rift appears that it does not look likely now, with each passing day, that the South African will coach the Sables again — with some 12 months still left on his two-year contract.
This could spark a legal tussle, and already it is understood that the ZRU has opened disciplinary procedures against de Villiers for unauthorised absence after the 61-year-old delayed returning to Zimbabwe at the beginning of the year.
His representatives, however, wrote to the ZRU, notifying the association that de Villiers was due for a medical check-up in Cape Town at the time he was scheduled to fly back to Zimbabwe to resume duty.
While the matter is still being settled in the boardroom, the pending appointment of Dawson as head coach and Chavhanga as assistant for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge seems to suggest that the ZRU has already made up its mind to part ways with de Villiers.
Both Dawson and Chavhanga are not on very good terms with de Villiers after falling out with the South African in separate incidents last year.
De Villiers fired Dawson as his Sables assistant coach mid-season after complaining of insubordination by the multi-capped former international, with the two having clashed bitterly over team selection.
As for Chavhanga, the former Stormers and Lions speedster infuriated de Villiers — his coach for two of his four Springbok Tests — after calling for his sacking from the Zimbabwe job in an interview with South Africa’s rugby365.com.
“We have seen how many players have come out of that country (Zimbabwe), a tremendous amount of talent. It was very noble, a good gesture and intent in terms of the Zim Rugby Union employing Peter de Villiers,” Chavhanga said.
“When he (De Villiers) was appointed, he promised that he would get us (Zimbabwe) to the (2019) World Cup and he failed. I feel that we need something a bit different. Whatever approach he took this year clearly didn’t work and I think for the amount of money that he is getting, as a Zimbabwean, I would have expected better results. I think it’s better to get someone else.”
De Villiers immediately hit back at Chavhanga, saying the Masvingo-born tear-away “ran away” from his own country, so lacked the moral high ground to criticise him.
Speaking on the popular Marawa Sport Worldwide show, hosted by esteemed TV and radio personality Robert Marawa, de Villiers said of Chavhanga: “You know, I don’t want to get into that conversation too much, but for someone who ran away from the problems of his own country when I was there trying to help the people of Zimbabwe. There are so many talented athletes in Zimbabwe and these guys struggle to choose whether they want to play, rugby, cricket or soccer when they leave high school.”
Meanwhile, Chavhanga is said to be keen on the Zimbabwe post, despite limited coaching experience. It will be his first job as a coach.
The ZRU will soon make an announcement on the Super Ruby Challenge.