Mandenge wants to stay as Sables coach

HARARE - Cyprian Mandenge still wants to continue as the Sables’ coach but he is unsure whether the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) will keep him in charge of the national team.

The Sables suffered another suffered another demoralising 27-34 home defeat to Uganda at the weekend in the 2016 Africa Cup Group 1A at Police Grounds.

Previously, the Sables had lost 15-61 to Kenya at the same venue three weeks ago.

This weekend’s defeat to the Cranes meant that Zimbabwe will be playing in the second tier of African rugby next year and qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is in jeopardy.

Mandenge is fully aware that as the coach he would be held responsible for the Sables poor showing even though there were many factors working against him in the run up to both matches.

“Where I am now is a bit of a fix; I’m caught between a rock and a hard place because it’s difficult to start preparing for next year because I don’t know if I will remain in charge,” Mandenge told the Daily News.

“Coaches are expected to produce results so it’s within the confines of the leaders to change things when results aren’t forthcoming. They’re my results and I take full ownership but I think we should look at the entire system and see where we went wrong.”

ZRU failed to organise any meaningful warm-up matches for the Sables before they commenced their 2016 Africa Cup campaign.

A lot of foreign-based rugby internationals chose not avail themselves for this campaign due to a lack of incentives from the ZRU to play for the national team.

Even before the first match against Kenya, there was a near revolt as the Sables players threatened not to fulfil the encounter before making a U-turn a few hours before kick-off.

As a result of all the problems going on behind the scenes in the Sables camp, Mandenge was forced to call up former skipper Costa Dinha out of retirement to be part of the squad.

The Sables got a lot of stick for recalling the 38-year-old lock, who started in both defeats to Kenya and Uganda. 

Mandenge defended his decision of plucking Dinha out of retirement.

“People may criticise my team selection but given the little time we had before the games I had to look upon some of the seniors regardless of age that I trusted would deliver the results because we couldn’t get the best of both worlds; getting results and building for the future and those players gave me results,” he said.

“We were just unfortunate to lose to Uganda because we played better rugby. The stop-gap measures that we had resorted to weren’t the best way to operate; we needed to get players that had requested for camp on time because we can’t grasp everything in four days.”

Although it appears there is only gloom in sight for local rugby, Mandenge still feels there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s painful to lose but what’s important now is to get our preparations right and not lose sight of where we need to go as a rugby playing nation,” he said.

“I believe Zimbabwe can do it if we do the right things at the right time.”

Mandenge, who now holds a World Rugby Level-three qualification, said ZRU needs to put in place the kind of structures that were in place four years ago when the Sables won the Africa Cup which now seems like a distant past.

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.