Middleton appointed ZRU technical director

HARARE - Former Zimbabwe Sevens coach Liam Middleton was on Wednesday appointed technical director of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) as the union continues with its drive to model its support structures in line with the world’s leading nations.

The 36-year-old Harare-born, who resigned as head coach of English Championship club Bristol City in March, will now move back home to Zimbabwe to head the country’s technical division of the game.

The position was initiated by the ZRU with support from the world rugby governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB).

Middleton is a highly-rated coach who besides transforming the Zimbabwe Sevens team into a well-drilled unit capable of competing favourably with the world’ best sides, also made a mark on the British club scene since moving there from South Africa in 2002.

He has the highest level of coaching qualification, the RFU Level 4 Certificate and is well-respected in coaching circles.

“Zimbabwe Rugby, under the guidance and encouragement of the International Rugby Board (IRB) has finalised the position for Technical Director of Zimbabwe Rugby,” read a press statement released by the ZRU on Wednesday.

“After numerous meetings and correspondence with the international governing body of the sport (IRB), Zimbabwe Rugby has been working on finalising the position for a number of months now.

“In September, Zimbabwe Rugby advertised the position through their website, national brands committees, to specific individuals within the Rugby fraternity in Zimbabwe and the position was made public in the media. With a number of applications having been made and after due consideration, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s national executive committee has appointed Liam Middleton for the position.”

ZRU says Middleton’s responsibilities will include “reviewing resource allocation and budgeting according to strategy, establish an elite athlete development programme for future rugby Olympians as well as establishing a coach development program and specialist coach’s delivery programme.”

He will also “consult over all technical issues relating to the upcoming Namibian tour by Zimbabwe and the Port Elizabeth leg of the IRB World Series in December.”