Middleton recommends local candidate

HARARE - Ex-Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) Technical Director, Liam Middleton believes the perennial financial problems that surround the game require a ‘resourceful’ person with strong Zimbabwean links to replace him.

Several top-rated rugby personalities have applied for the highest coaching job in Zimbabwe rugby whose interviews are expected at the end of the month.

Amongst the applicants are former Springboks coach Peter de Villiers and former Sharks Academy director Hans Scriba, who are all vying to replace Middleton, who resigned at the end of last month to become the Canada Sevens Rugby head coach.

Former Young Sables coach Bright Chivandire is one of the notable local candidates who have applied for the vacant post.

“I understand that the level of qualification and experience of the applicants are quite high,” Middleton told the Daily News yesterday.

“My advice to the union would be to take up a local person, as I was. I feel it’s important to employ a local person; they don’t have to be resident in Zimbabwe but should have strong links with Zimbabwe.

“I think it’s important, from my own experience. I think Zimbabwe rugby needs someone who understands how rugby works in the country.”

The 37-year-old returned to take up the role of ZRU Technical Director in October 2013, having left in 2010 for a stint in the UK.

Middleton believes his understanding of the economic conditions in Zimbabwe is what helped him settle quickly in his just ended reign.

“Zim rugby has very unique challenges and dynamics but because I had a previous understanding of working with the Zimbabwe national team I was able to fit into the position when I was appointed eight months ago,” the former Cheetahs coach said.

“But it’s difficult for someone from South Africa or Australia to come in and understand the systems. That would take about six months.

“I don’t think anyone has six months to know the team, know the players know the provincial boards, systems and dynamics.

“If you look at de Villiers and Hans Scriba they are coming from places where finances are not an issue. In Zim rugby finance is an issue

“It needs someone who is resourceful. Look at 2009, the country was struggling for water, food but our Sevens side went on and did well that’s because me and (Bruce) Hobson understood how to drive performance without much resources.

“But all said, everything will come down to the interview process. Obviously those guys are strong candidates they have significant experience.”

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