Sables hung out to dry

HARARE - As the nation examine the wreckage of heartbreak after Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the Rugby World Cup next year, the harsh reality of that disappointment becomes harder to accept.

The sweet scent of the World Cup in England has been ruthlessly taken away from us, replaced by an unpleasant odour of great disappointment and defeat. 

And for this, neither the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) nor the team is to blame. They did their best, fighting gallantly for their sport and country. Let us lay the blame squarely where it belongs – on the Government and corporate world – for abandoning the team in its greatest hour of need.

Government and sponsors missed a great opportunity to change Zimbabwean sport forever. A wonderful opportunity to be associated with a proud sport and a proud team which had the best chance, drive and ability to put Zimbabwe on the world map at a time our football team has hit its lowest ever ebb, and the sorry state of cricket is a concern of great anguish.

The corporates kept a tight grip on their money when the need was great, probably reserving a few bucks for big newspaper adverts to offer their heartfelt congratulations had the team qualified.

The minister (supposed to be) in charge of Sport in this country, Andrew Langa, and his hyperactive deputy, Tabeth Kanengoni-Malinga, who apparently have secured a substantial amount of money to host an insignificant event, something called the Zone Six Youth Games, would not have missed an opportunity to grandstand as if they have contributed anything meaningful. They would have been at the airport to give the Sables a heroes’ welcome. 

Maybe the president of the country would also have hosted the entire winning team at State House and reward each member of the squad with a few thousand dollars.

That’s who we are, we like reap where we did not sow, bask in the glory for which we contributed nothing.

We are a nation which does not believe in investing in success.

Here is a scenario.

Kenya, one of our opponents in the qualification tournament in Madagascar last week, received US$8 million from their Government several months before the games to help with preparations, thanks to the successful lobbying of sports-loving Parliamentarians in their august House. 

Even with all that money, with all the good preparations – playing in South Africa’s Vodacom Cup for months – we still were able to put the Kenyans in their rightful place, below us, where they have always belonged.

Imagine then, if we had just a fraction of what the Kenyans had. We surely would be going to England next year.

We surely would have been able to chisel the rough edges of our game before the important trip to Madagascar.

We would not have had to experience our first real match situation at the tournament.

We would have worked on our defence beforehand and by doing so avoided conceding those 22 points against a mediocre Madagascar side in the opening match, which returned to haunt us in the end despite the thumping win.

We would have beaten Namibia this time around, those who saw that unlucky 24-20 defeat would testify to it.

With just a fraction of the money given to the Kenyans, we would have spotted several loopholes, those little things which in the end fatally proved the difference between us and a place in England next year.

What a cruel reminder of our ill-fated tendency as Zimbabweans to hope things happen just by thinking they will happen – without putting in the groundwork and resources.

Comments (3)

i could not agree with you more. its surprising that the so called corporate world rush and pour money into events only when an achievement has been done. whatever happened to sponsoring grassroots and development?? in south africa corporate sponsors fall over each other to a get a piece of sponsoring the springboks and it is no secret that it is the reason why they are a dominant force in world rugby. in Zimbabwe the government only recognise ahievements if they can take advantage and score cheap political points and mileage. its sickening to say the least. the Sables played well and i am so proud of the boys, you only had to watch the match against kenya to see that it was one of the best matches the sables have ever played. there is still a chance to qualify by playing russia in siberia but win or lose zimbabwe has massive rugby talent and we will always remain as being a "potential" rugby powerhouse as long as our government does nothing for the union

rugby fan - 9 July 2014

I am quite happy that the government does not have much to do with the rugby union, the way they have managed to stuff up other sports organisations, most recently cricket, so private sector - yes but government no. I see they have to go and face a government enquiry as to why they did not qualify tomorrow and one can only hope that this is not going to be an end to the dream. The fact that Themba Mliswa is heading the enquiry up does not bode well. Corporate world could definitely have gotten more involoved, regardless of the result in Russia, Zim has some momentum now so the corporates need to come in now and get some sponsorship going. Getting involved in provincial SA rugby at senior level is now an absolute must.

Dan - 9 July 2014

I have a points to make: 1)Zimbabwe could still qualify if we focus on qualification rather than blame at this stage. We need to be positive and get in reinforcements. Russia have been in turmoil over the last year and can be beat but only if our players remain focussed and we get reinforcements. 2. It is actually probably better to qualify though the repêchage process as we would have been teams higher placed than us, meaning we wouldnt show up at the tournament as the lowest ranked team and just be there to get brutalised and ship record amounts of points. We would actually start building for the tournament through this process and learn how to play like a top 20 ranked nation. 3.Zanu-PF was always going to get involved, win or lose. the Herald has been running a campaign against Middleton for at least a year now. If we had qualified, they would have wanted all the credit and would've introduced all the acrimony that comes with Zimbabwe qualifying for a big tournament. 4. Zimbabwe sport always prospers when government (Zanu-pf) looks the other way. One of the reasons why the warriors were good in the early nineties was because after initial failures in continental football in the 80s, Zanu-pf forgot about football (and concentrated on the Rhinos etc), so Highlanders and Dynamos developed without interference. Once we started winning, Zanu got interested (Leo Mugabe) and killed t he cash cow. Same with rugby; we were good at it, then ZANU got interested and the likes of TTemba politicised it and we started losing and they lost interest. Now that it has been resurrected, the cycle starts again

Ron Mtizwa - 10 July 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.