Rugby union boss steps down

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Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president Themba Sibanda, whose term in office comes to an end at the end of the month, says he was satisfied with how the sport made significant strides during his term of office.

A new ZRU executive will be elected into office at an anual general meeting at Old Hararians Sports Club on January 27 when Sibanda’s third and final one year term comes to an end.

In an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday, the former Harare Sports Club rugby chairman said:

“Obviously there is a lot that still needs to be done for us to reclaim our status of the top-playing rugby nations in the world, but I’m glad that we have made some progress. It was not an easy road. There were some ups and downs along the way, but we managed to achieve some of the goals we had set for ourselves when I assumed office.”

Sibanda, who took over from Bruce Hobson in 2009 said he would always be available to assist the new executive, whose focus will be to ensure the flagship national rugby side the Sables qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Sibanda said he felt the term of office should run from one World Cup to another, with each coming board having the task to have the Sables qualify for the quadrennial tournament.

“The issue of a 12 month-term does not work because I don’t think as an executive you will be able to achieve anything in such a short time.

“In my opinion the term should be four years covering from one World Cup to another with each coming executive focusing on the next World Cup because it’s not possible to plot the team’s qualification in one year.

“It should be the same with the Sables coaching post and hopefully the Sables committee will be guided by that when appointing the next Sables coach,” said Sibanda.

In 2011, Zimbabwean rugby experienced one of its most glorious years in a decade.

The Sables achieved a remarkable unbeaten run to reclaim their place among the elite group in African rugby on their way to achieving their highest-ever ranking of 33 in the world.

The flagship national rugby side was deservedly named the Team of the Year at the Annual National Sports Awards.

Delta Beverages, through their Lion Lager brand, made a welcome return to the sport as the Sables sponsors and the title sponsors of the National Rugby League.

The national Sevens rugby team, the Cheetahs, were invited to two more legs on the IRB World Sevens series in London and Scotland having shown signs of improvement over the years.

The national Under-19 team also maintained their domination on the continent by capturing their third successive title and in the process booking Africa’s sole ticket to the 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy.