The Herald (Harare)

28 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Chivandire Praises Young Sables

YOUNG SABLES coach Brighton Chivandire has heaped praise on the Under-19 class of 2012 and believes that are the most talented group of rugby players he has worked with.

Chivandire said despite not getting the required results on the field of play his players had shown exceptional talent that deserved more than what they managed.

The former Sables coach is in charge of both the Under-20 and Under-19 rugby teams that took part in the Junior World Rugby Trophy and Africa Cup tournaments where the boys failed to get any silverware this year.

"The results on the field of play were rather disappointing, we struggled and I'm not satisfied with what happened on the field of play but the players we produced were talented, exciting, of (top) quality and would rate amongst the best I have worked with," said Chivandire.

The former Sables lock feels that the Young Sables committee led by chairman Aaron Jani did a wonderful job in making sure all was in place for the JWRT "preparation with a difference".

"The organisation, planning and preparation for all we did was one of the best we have ever had as the Under-20 because after qualifying (for the JWRT) they knew exactly what to do.

"The objectives were clear and the plan was there, we had a comprehensive training schedule and we managed to initiate programmes we had only dreamt of."

Zimbabwe finished seventh at the JWRT with a 22-10 win over Russia and went on to lose the Junior Africa Cup to Namibia in front of their home crowd after holding on to the title three successive years.

Zimbabwe had definitely prepared well for the world tournament after playing a series of international friendly games in South Africa before flying out to France where they played more games.

They had the help of top technical personnel after South African strength and conditioning and specialist forwards coach Nico de Villiers and Australian legend David "Campo" Campese were roped in to help the Young Sables.

Before playing in the United States, the Young Sables also flew to France for a 10 day camp where again they played more friendly games with the help of top French coaches.

This gave Chivandire and his boys their best preparation for the world stage ever, putting them in good spirits for the JWRT.

But things did not go according to plan in the United States where Zimbabwe finished seventh in the eight-team tournament.

The Young Sables first lost to Japan after falling in the final minute in controversial circumstances.

Then three of their players were caught on the wrong side of the law as they failed anti-doping tests.

"I was really happy with the way we prepared because in South Africa we exposed a lot of players to game situation, tried combinations and we had the help of Nico and Campese before selecting the best side.

"But we also faced challenges after losing two of our top players in the form of Preston Bryant and Garath Meikle who were not available and we had to look elsewhere.

"The players we went with to America were the best but the challenge was that we were not able to retain some of the players from the previous campaign and we must at least contain that.

"No one really understood how we lost to Japan because it was our aim to beat them and we took the game down to the wire, the way we lost was difficult to understand, or console the boys and it was difficult for them to get up from then on. The situation was even worsened by the anti-doping case because that had a negative impact on everyone even as the management we could not predict what was coming next.

"That effectively shifted the team's attention to events off the field of play, they were psychologically disturbed but we should learn to get up and achieve even when we fall," said Chivandire.

It was all but a tough outing for the Young Sables who suffered three straight defeats in the group stages starting with a loss to Japan (36-39) before Georgia (7-43) added pain to the wound while Canada (44-65) also proved a handful for Zimbabwe.

However, it was in their last game of the tournament that the Young Sables who were anchored at the bottom of Pool B managed a face-saver with a win over Russia who had also finished bottom of Pool A.

This was Zimbabwe's first win in seven games having suffered four defeats last year in this tournament and it was only their second in 12 games over three years having beaten Papua New Guinea also in a seventh place playoff in Russia 2010.

Zimbabwe came back home faced with another challenge of hosting and defending the Under-19 Africa Cup - which is used as a JWRT qualifier - for the second time in a row.

The staging of the games was flawless but Chivandire reckons they did not prepare well for the tournament.

Zimbabwe won by luck in a rather scrappy opening game against Kenya, before thrashing Tunisia 42-0, but they fell 23-44 where it mattered most -- against the real enemy Namibia - who regained the title after three years.

"Things do not just happen, we need to make them happen and against Kenya we did not look like a side that has prepared for the tournament.

"We have to appreciate that we beat Namibia three years in a row but it takes everyone in the system if we are to maintain such records.

"If our junior sides starting from the Under-14 are able to dominate Namibia at the Craven Week, then all the way to the Sables we will be able to beat them.

"But over the past three years we have lost to Namibia at all levels of the Craven Week and that goes on to show the paten of talent that will be coming through," said the former Sables coach.

However, 2012 also marked the year Young Sables assistant coach Godwin "Jaws" Murambiwa resigned from the Young Sables technical set.

Murambiwa was at one stage the head coach of the Young Sables before taking over as Under-18 coach.

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