Middleton to work with national teams

HARARE – Liam Middleton says he will help out with coaching the country’s major national teams in his newly created role as technical director of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU).

35-year-old Middleton was unveiled by the ZRU at a press conference at the union’s headquarters in Alexandra Park yesterday having left his last job in the UK as coach of Bristol RFC back in March.

The former Zimbabwe Sevens coach, who transformed the Cheetahs into a formidable outfit on the world Sevens circuit, will begin work with immediate effect.

“I will also been in charge of reviewing   all the appointments from all our teams from coaches, management, medical personnel and strength and conditioning coaches,” said Middleton.

“Also, I will have an input on the coaching of the majority of the teams, some more than others were I see the need for me to impact on the technical side. My duty is to basically oversee all technical aspects of our representative teams and monitor the developed of the game in the country.”

The Harare-born highly-qualified gaffer, who held several coaching roles in the UK for 11 years, said he was determined to “put up a structure of player development across the board.”

ZRU vice-president Colleen De Jong welcomed Middleton’s appointment.

“Middleton’s appointment has largely been through a recommendation by the International Rugby Boards (IRB) as part of their special project of helping developing countries,” she said.

“They want us to be doing things correctly and try to be at par with the bigger nations. The IRB so us fit and in need of this post and will also be responsible for some his financial needs.

“Generally, we saw the need to raise the standard of the game in the country and to be more competitive at every level on the international stage. In the past we tended to operate individually at every level, it was largely lack of human resources. We didn’t share the same, vision be it the Cheetahs, the Sables or at school level.  With Liam now at the helm, it will make the implementation of our vision much easier.”

De Jong added that the return of Middleton, himself an expat for more than 10 years, will also encourage other exiled local rugby personalities to come back home and contribute to the growth of the game.

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