WITH less than a week before the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Group 1A Championships in Madagascar, Zimbabwe’s preparations have been thrown into turmoil with some senior players boycotting camp.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Sables captain Costa Dinha, former skipper Cleopas Makotose together with fly-half Tichafara Makwanya are not part of the group of players currently in camp for the crucial tournament which will take place at the Mahamasina Stadium in Antananarivo, Madagascar from July 10-14.
Dinha told NewsDay Sport in an interview yesterday that the players had signed a petition in which they passed a vote of no confidence in team manager Losson Mtongwiza, whom they accused of not paying attention to the players’ concerns.
“Basically, the issue is that the players are not happy with the way (Losson) Mtongwiza treats the players. They feel that as a team manager, instead of concentrating on player welfare and listening to the players’ concerns, he is interfering too much in technical issues and influencing team selection.
“The issue has been ongoing for a long time now, but the players are afraid to speak out for fear of victimisation. We have even written a petition in which we have highlighted our concerns and it has been signed by the majority of the senior players.
“We have sent the letter to the Sports and Recreation Commission, Zimbabwe Rugby Union and the Sables committee chairman Bongai Zamchiya so that the issue is addressed. We (Dinha, Makotose and Makwanya) will not train until the matter has been resolved,” Dinha said.
In his defence, Mtongwiza said he could only comment on the matter after having seen the petition.
“I have only heard that there is a petition that has been written by the players, but I cannot comment on the issue until after I have seen it.
“But the real issue with Costa Dinha and Tichafara Makwanya is that they trained with the team on Sunday and the next day they asked to be excused from camp citing work commitments. As for Costa, you can ask his boss Jaws (Godwin Murambiwa). He is also aware that the player asked to be excused from camp.”
Murambiwa could not be reached for comment.
The chaos in the Sables camp comes as a blow to the national side which will also miss former captain Danie Hondo due to injury.
Hondo, an experienced centre, will be missing from the Sables backline after suffering a hand fracture while on national duty for the national sevens rugby team, the Cheetahs, at the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia at the weekend.
Cheetahs’ team manager Bruce Hobson said Hondo would require up to six weeks.
“Yes, Danny (Hondo) suffered a hand fracture during the World Cup in Russia and is in a cast as we speak. He was told he would require up to six weeks before he can start playing again which unfortunately rules him out of the Sables’ Madagascar tour,” Hobson said.
Zimbabwe will head for the CAR Group 1A tourney with high hopes of defending the title they won last year’s edition in Tunisia.
The top three teams at the four-team competition will retain status in the top tier group as next year’s Championship will serve as the final round of 2015 Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifiers with the winner earning Africa’s sole berth to England.