Blood bath? Zim rugby captain stripped, Sables to be reconstituted

Zimbabwe national rugby team tight head prop Denford Mutamangira has been stripped off his captaincy two days after holding a press conference in which he hit out at the Aaron Jani led administration.

A Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) official, however, insisted Mutamangira’s dismissal was supposed to have been announced on Tuesday and the player knew about it when he held the press conference.

This comes less than six years after 12 players were suspended from the Sables camp after expressing their reservations with then Sables team manager Losson Mtongwiza whom they accused of meddling in selection issues while neglecting player welfare.

“Brendan Dawson has been given the mandate to coach and assemble this Sables team to be announced including his technical team and the new Sables captain,” Zimbabwe Rugby Union said in a statement this morning.

The union added that they would be a complete overhaul of the current national rugby team which was under the leadership of recently fired Peter de Villiers.

“Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) will announce the final squad for the Victoria Cup, the larger composition of this squad will be derived from the Zimbabwe Rugby Academy which had its debut season at the SuperSport Rugby Challenge,” ZRU said.

“The Sables Trust has expressed its full confidence in sponsoring the national side picked for the Victoria Cup following the spirited performances from the Zimbabwe Rugby Academy.”

Zimbabwe Rugby Academy under head coach Brendon Dawson in its first season in the competition lost all seven of their games but managed to push a strong Western Province side close, losing a competitive match 33-13, while also coming within two points of beating the SWD Eagles.

ZRU added: “Performances from the academy and the Sables are part of the ZRU’s long term goal of making it into the 2023 world cup – a return to the Victoria Cup will mean that this will have the Zimbabwe taking part in 13 senior competitive matches in one calendar year.”

The development comes after Mutamangira told the media that Sables players were “frustrated” at ZRU administration for interfering in the running of the national team to an extent of making it their personal property.

Mutamangira who insisted he was speaking on behalf of Sables players, also waded into the Peter de Villiers saga calling for the reinstatement of the former Springbok coach.

 “…in spite of Peter de Villiers’ good intentions and constructive input that he brought to the team, he was forced to deal with a presidium that restricted his ability to be fully impactful,” Mutamangira said.

“They are an oversight organ there to provide support to the coach and the players. However, it overstepped its parameters by consistently attempting to influence the team management, team selection and other decisions within the parameters of de Villiers as the coach.”

The former Scotland-based front rower took over from Daniel Hondo had been Sables captain since 2015.

A newly assembled Zimbabwe Sables will take part in the revived Victoria Cup staring on the 22nd of June as their premier Test rugby competition for the year 2019.

This comes after confirmation of the cancelation of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup this year as a result of the main sponsor Kwese Sports pulling out unexpectedly.

In lieu thereof, the Victoria Cup has been revived and the tournament will involve Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Victoria cup match schedule:

22 June              Kenya v Uganda

6 July                  Kenya v Zimbabwe

13 July                Uganda v Kenya

13 July                 Zimbabwe v Zambia

20 July                 Zimbabwe v Kenya

27 July                  Uganda v Zimbabwe

27 July                  Zambia v Kenya

10 August            Uganda v Zambia

17 August            Kenya v Zambia

31 August            Zambia v Uganda

24 August            Zimbabwe v Uganda

14 September   Zambia v Zimbabwe