Zimbabwe senior rugby enterprising fullback Danny Robertson, who on Friday night scooped two awards at the 2011 Lion Lager Rugby Awards, said his goal is to see Zimbabwe returning to the International Rugby Board Rugby World Cup in 2015.
Robertson who helped the senior national side to an unbeaten run last season was named the Sables Player of the Year and the Backline Player of the Year in the Lion Lager National Rugby league, where he also led Old Georgians to a successful defence of their league championship.
The 20-year-old versatile backliner — who is also comfortable at flyhalf or centre — said he believed the Sables, who haven’t been to the global showpiece since 1991, have the quality of players to reach that goal.
“It is very painful to watch other teams playing at the World Cup, especially when you think the teams are not even better than you. Zimbabwe has a very strong team, we might not be at this World Cup, but we will come through.
“If Namibia can make it to the World Cup, so can we. We have good players, some who are playing in very competitive leagues abroad and we also have youngsters who are coming through so with the current set-up, we have a great chance of playing at the 2015 World Cup.”
Robertson played an integral part in the class of 2011 which won the CAR Africa Cup Group B, rejoining the continent’s rugby elite in the process before emphatically winning the Tri-Nations Victoria Cup involving Uganda and Kenya.
As a result of the impressive performances the Sables rose from a lowly 48th to a new high of 35th on the IRB World Rankings, their highest position since the rankings were introduced.
Robertson hailed the sponsorship of Delta Beverages through their Lion Lager brand and said it was a step in the right direction.
“The coming in of Lion Lager as our partner this year had everything moving in the right direction. To have a big partner behind you is a good thing; it helps build the confidence in the team.
“It is our hope that Lion Lager will stick with us for a long time so that we can realise our dreams of playing at the next World Cup. We are still appealing to the world out there to come through and get Zimbabwe rugby going,” said Danny Robertson.
On winning Sables Player of the Year, Robertson said, “I feel good, I didn’t expect it because I was up against very good players. For me it’s a great honour to be named the Best Player of the Year. I just hope that I keep playing well for my club and the national team.
I want to keep working hard and work on my faults. Credit should also go to my teammates both at club level and the Sables players for helping me achieve this.”
Young Robertson was born in July 1990 in Harare and raised in the Mvurwi farming areas of Mashonaland Central.
He attended Districts schools, first at Barwick Junior School in Mvurwi and then Peterhouse College in Marondera where he also excelled at squash, waterpolo and athletics.
His father, who played for Banket in the Mashonaland Country Districts league, was his mentor in the formative years.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Rugby Union President Themba Sibanda said he was confident that Zimbabwean rugby was on its way back to the top.
“It is only a matter of time until we are once again ranked in the top 20 of rugby playing nations. How great would it be for our national anthem to be played at the rugby World Cup match? This has happened before and I believe it can happen again.
“The current Sables team has set up a foundation to build on and it is up to us to help them continue the good work,” he added.
The 2011 Lion Lager Rugby Award winners at a glance
Sables Player of the Year: Danny Robertson
Sables Player’s Player of the Year: Gardner Nechironga
Sables Most Disciplined: Shingirai Mpofu
Sables Forward of the Year: Denford Mutamangira
Sables Backline of the Year: Charles Jiji
Sables Rookie of the Year: Kudakwashe Chiwanza
League’s Player of the Year: Jacques Leitao
Best Backline: Danny Robertson
Best Forward: Denford Mutamangira
Most Disciplined Player: Samson Makuku
Rookie of the Year: Kudakwashe Chiwanza