The Herald (Harare)

18 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Sables Storm Brews

A STORM is brewing in the Zimbabwe national rugby side, the Sables, just a few days after taking part in the Emirates Four-Nations' tournament where they finished third in Dubai. While coach

Brandon Dawson indicated that he was happy with his charges, the players are accusing the coach of alleged bias on selection and lack of communication within the structures.

"Surely, we are not happy with the way coach (Brandon Dawson) conducts himself in front of us and he even treats the assistant coach (Cyprian "Supa" Mandenge) as if he is one of the junior players," said one of the players.

"He rarely communicates with him (Mandege) and when he is not around for the training sessions, he (Dawson) even prefers to call players and give them instructions on which drills to conduct.

"Honestly, what picture then does this give to us as players when someone who is supposed to be our role model and leader treats his assistant in that way?

"It becomes tough for us.

"Were it not because of the fear of victimisation, we would have our names published but the Sables' system is such that if you say the truth then you get punished.

"This is the reason why Cleopas Makotose was called into camp and not picked the last time and if this continues then we are definitely not going to qualify for the 2015 World Cup in England."

The problems seem to have been going for a long time now but the bubble finally burst yesterday when players indicated they were not happy with the leadership qualities of the former Sables coach.

A few weeks ago ZRU president, John Falkenberg, told The Herald that he was not happy with the events in the Sables camp, as there is lack of commitment and over the past year he has only been to three of the five tournaments the Sables played.

Dawson did not travel with the Sables for the Africa Cup group 1B tournament in Uganda but he took part in the next two tournaments namely the Victoria Cup last year and the Africa Cup this year.

He however, failed to travel to Namibia and Mandenge had to again take charge of the Sables before Dawson joined camp for the United Arab Emirates invitational tournament.

But players have also questioned the selection criterion used by the Sables' gaffer.

"It's a known fact that Dawson does not watch the local league games, he does not travel to Harare to watch the league games but that is where most of the teams are based so how then does he get to know the players.

"There are a lot of talented players here that we can rely on and those who travelled to Namibia did a much better job than some of the guys who joined us for Dubai and there are no selection measures.

"To us it becomes apparent that they hand-picked those they like because form and fitness are not considered.

"In Dubai and some of the players that were called for the tournament did not have any national team experience but they flew to Dubai straight without training with us.

"And how were we supposed to learn each other's play, in such a short space of time?" added one of the senior players.

However, a few months ago Dawson, though the ZRU, was presented with a vehicle by Toyota Zimbabwe that he was supposed to use to travel round the country in search and identification of talent.

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