Zimbabwe Rugby Union have roped in South African Stanley Raubenheimer as the backline coach ahead of the start of the Gold Cup, which is a vehicle to the 2019 World Cup qualifiers.
BY Kevin Mapasure
ZRU announced yesterday that Raubenheimer will be one of head coach, Peter de Villiers’s assistants, even though he will be working his duties on a part-time basis.
Raubenheimer, who is very well-respected in South African rugby circles represented his country in Sevens, the Northern Bulls in Super Rugby and Boland, Mpumalanga and Western Province in the Currie Cup competitions as a player.
His coaching career started at Tygerberg Rugby Club in Western Province, but he soon moved into the provincial structures, where he coached at Griffons, Western Province, Border Bulldogs and the Valke.
Raubenheimer also coached in Varsity Cup as head coach to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
The Sables will kick off their campaign with a match against Morocco in June, which marks the new technical team’s first official assignment since they replaced the Cyprian Mandenge-led coaching department.
De Villiers has been working with locally-based players in the last few months, but they are set to group with foreign-based players when they go into camp between May 3 and 7 in Bulawayo.
After a one week camp, the team will travel to South Africa, where they expect to play two matches as they prepare for the World cup qualifiers.
De Villiers yesterday told the media that he was pleased to have Raubenheimer in his technical team, which also includes former Sables captain and coach, Brendan Dawson and former Zimbabwe youth international, Kudakwashe “Kisset” Chirengende, who will serve as team manager.
“We needed someone who understands the game and understands Zimbabwean rugby,” De Villiers said. “We thought he was the right guy to take us forward and I am pleased to be surrounded by two great coaches as my assistants.
“I know the players will respect them and I am at ease when I am working with such coaches. We want to take the responsibility of taking the country, where it belongs. We want to make Zimbabwe the number one rugby playing country in Africa. I have been working with the players and I can tell you that self-belief has returned and even the body language tells you that a lot has changed.”
De Villiers warned that the squad will have to work hard if they are to win their opening match against Morocco on June 16 at home.
“Morocco have been working hard, they have been preparing for the past six months. I must say that we shouldn’t expect a stroll in the park against them, it will be a tough match. What I like though is that we have better athletes than most top rugby nations we just need to make sure they reach their full potential.”
After the Morocco match, Zimbabwe’s next assignment will be away to Kenya on June 30, while another away match against Tunisia falls on July 7. The last two matches will be against Namibia (home) and then Uganda (away) on August 11.