Zim coaches get Cheetahs attachment

HARARE - Local rugby coaches have been afforded a career-enhancing opportunity by going on a week-long attachment with South Africa’s Free State Rugby Union (FSRU).

Five male and one female Zimbabwean coaches, whose names are still to be finalised, will get a rare chance to see how the Toyota Cheetahs prepare for the high-level Guinness PRO14 matches.

Sports consultant and registered football intermediatary Gerald Maguranyanga is the brains behind the trip and is working closely with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s (ZRU) Director of Coaching Nsikelelo “Sykes” Sibanda to finalise issues to do with the trip.

The FSRU will carry most of the local costs while the Zimbabwean coaches will just need to pay for their Harare-Johannesburg-Bloemfontein return air tickets and some related administrative costs for the trip.

Maguranyanga said he decided to partner with the Bloemfontein-based franchise because of their strong rugby tradition that includes churning out countless Springbok players and their previous Currie Cup successes as-well-as the “fantastic, strong”, personal relations he had built since 2005 with the franchise’s long-serving managing director, Harold Verster.

The Toyota Cheetahs used to be the home of World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Kennedy Tsimba and former Springboks wing Tonderai Chavhanga.

“The Free State Cheetahs obviously have an enviable coaching pool which includes several current and former Springbok, top-class coaches, practicing professionally at all levels of the game in South Africa, and we seek to tap from that,” Maguranyanga said in his initial correspondence to Verster.

“The attachment will greatly help to up-skill the Zimbabwean coaches. I’m thankful for the FSRU committing to cater for all attendant costs once our coaching attachment attendees arrive in Bloemfontein.

“I believe this could be the beginning of a mutually-beneficial relationship to the general Zimbabwean rugby and the FSRU in the medium-to-long term period.”

The coaches will arrived in Bloemfontein on October 20 and will observe the highly-rated coach Franco Smith and his technical team prepare for the Toyota Cheetahs Guinness PRO14 match against the Cardiff Blues at the Toyota Stadium this weekend.

The 45-year-old Smith made nine Test appearances for South Africa between 1997 and 1999 and has been the Cheetahs head coach since 2015.

Smith was the Boks assistant to Allister Coetzee since 2016 before relinquishing his post at the start of the year.

“As previously advised, the coaches intend to arrive on 2018 October 20, Sunday with the attendees leaving Bloemfontein on October 28, Sunday,” Maguranyanga wrote to Verster.

“This would allow them the chance to closely-observe your coaches plan, prepare and execute a week-long plan for the PRO14 match you will host the following weekend.”

In his written response to Maguranyanga, Verster said everything was in order and had been approved for the attachment.

“Thank you for your mail. I have requested our Head of High Performance to get in contact with you. I have booked accommodation and he will take care of the rest,” Verster wrote to Maguranyanga last week.

“He will communicate with you soon. Hope you are in good shape and that Zim is getting into a better situation under the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” said Verster, who has been known to have huge admiration for the discipline and athletic abilities of Zimbabwean rugby players, of whom the scintillating Tsimba and the one-time “fastest-rugby-player-in-the-world” Chavhanga, became unlikely legends in the Afrikaner heartland of Bloemfontein.

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