ZRU keen on familier faces

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) is keen on reuniting with former national team coaches as they begin the hunt for Cyprian Mandenge’s successor the Daily News has established.

Mandenge and Sables team manager Sebastian Garikai tendered in their resignations on Monday following a heated meeting with the ZRU top brass following another disappointing Africa Cup campaign.

The Sables were relegated to the Africa Cup Group 1B following a winless run in 2016 putting the country’s qualification bid for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in jeopardy.  

Although ZRU have invited applicants for the Sables job, an internal process of trying to bring the likes of Liam Middleton, Brendan Dawson, Grant Mitchell, Daniel Hondo and Gilbert Nyamutsamba has already begun.

Former ZRU director of rugby Middleton, who previously coached the Sevens national team between 2004 and 2010, was recently sacked as the Canada Sevens gaffer following their failure to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.

His departure was, however, not unexpected given an underachieving World Series season that saw Canada finishing in 13th place overall including a 12-match winless streak in tournaments played in Hong Kong, Singapore and London.

Middleton is being considered for the Sables post virtue of his good work with the Cheetahs when the side became a serious contender on the World Sevens circuit.

Another option being explored is elevating current Cheetahs coach Danny Hondo to the Sables hot seat.

If that succeeds, Gilbert Nyamutsamba will then be recalled to take charge of the Sevens side he last coached in 2014.

Last year, the Bulawayo-based coach announced his retirement from all rugby activities to concentrate on his business and would need some convincing from ZRU to come back. 

Former Sables coach Dawson has also emerged as a surprise candidate for the job after leaving the post in 2014.

ZRU are also exploring the possibility of luring Mitchell away from his club Old Georgians to become the new Sables coach.

The former Sables and Cheetahs flyhalf served as the ZRU general manager between 2010 and 2012 before stepping down to concentrate on OGs and his work at Innovate High Performance Centre.

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