The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Murambiwa Speaks On Sables

FORMER Sables coach Godwin "Jaws" Murambiwa believes Zimbabwe rugby needs to change their approach when preparing for international assignments and bring in a different culture from the juniors to the senior national team.

The Sables, the country's flagship rugby side have had minimal time to prepare for international games, often getting into camp about three days before departing for an assignment.

The same could be said of the junior teams that take part at the Craven Week rugby festivals in South Africa.

Murambiwa who has also previously coached the Young Sables and the Craven Week side feels that lack of adequate preparation is one of the major reasons that has resulted in the national teams failing to get much success.

The national Under-18 mentor saw his side lose two of their three games at the Under-18 Craven Week in South Africa last year, just a few days after the Under-16 side won two of their three fixtures while the Under-14 team lost all four games.

However, Murambiwa feels that lack of adequate preparation will continue costing the nation at the expense of developing the game at all levels.

"If we are to compete in South Africa then we need to have a professional approach and that is why we have started losing to sides that we had dominated over the years because we do not take our preparations seriously.

"We have remained stagnant in our performance at the Craven Week because we meet for about four days before leaving for the festival and it is very difficult when you then go on and compete against sides that play up to six games before the same festival.

"Given this scenario, it is not surprising that we lose by up to 60 points or so at the Craven Week because we are not adequately prepared.

"Our selection process is also not good enough because we only have the Cottco festival in April after which there are two weeks to prepare for the provincial selection and a week for national trials before going to South Africa.

"This only works against us and if we are to look at Namibia, they have been taking part at all the weeks (junior rugby festivals) in South Africa and this is why they are doing much better than us at all levels," said Murambiwa.

Zimbabwe had three of their junior teams -- the Under-18, Under-16 and the Under-14 - taking part in the respective South African festivals but none of them managed to beat Namibia in the three meetings.

In fact, Zimbabwe were overally very disappointing as they only managed three wins off a combined total of 10 games in all the age groups with the Under-13 losing all the four games while the Under-17 proved the most exciting.

Coached by Douglas Trivella, the Under-17 side were taking part at the Grant Khomo rugby week for the first time, winning their first two games against the Golden Lions (21-18) and beating Griquas CD 18-14 but lost to Namibia 18-30.

Despite the loss Trivella was impressed with the overall performance exhibited by his side at the four-day rugby fiesta.

"Winning against the Lions XV was a huge confidence booster because they are one of the strongest sides here, in fact both Lions sides here are very strong and the boys performed, adapted and learnt on what we did.

"But Griquas CD were a bit weaker, it seemed, but we did not finish our chances and I feel that we should have won that game by about 30 points comfortably and the boys know that but coming into the third game we knew they were our worst enemy.

"Namibia lost two and we had won two so maybe the boys thought we were going to win the game but in the end we lost to a team that wanted to win more, we panicked, we did not perform, our defensive pattern was weak, we did not play rugby," said Trivella.

The Under-18 side has been taking part at the Craven Week festival since the pre-independence era while the Under-13 side started taking part in the Craven Week only a few years ago, a move that is expected to bring continuity in Zimbabwe rugby national teams.

Even the organisers of the Under-16 festival had rated Zimbabwe lowly as they were billed to play at the B Field of the University of Johannesburg but their performance against the Lions saw them playing the rest of the tournament on the main field.

But of all these teams, the Under-13 were the most disappointing losing 56-0 against the Leopards in the opening match, falling 5-36 to Namibia with the Free State Cheetahs getting a 34-0 win while the Pumas destroyed Zimbabwe 38-0.

"But at the 2013 festival we are likely going to be a better side in the Under-18 because we had about nine players from the previous team who are eligible to play again this year," said Murambiwa.

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