TOKYO — Australia flanker David Pocock believes his native Zimbabwe have all the talent needed at schoolboy level to return to the upper echelons of the game and qualify for another Rugby World Cup.
Enthused by the recent progress made by a host of Tier 2 nations, the former Wallabies skipper is keen to see the land of his birth put coaching structures in place to enable them to hold on to more of their young talent.
Do that, and the future is bright for the country that contested the first two Rugby World Cups and remains the only non-Tier 1 nation to have beaten New Zealand. Known as Southern Rhodesia, they beat the All Blacks in 1947.
“I have been in touch with some of the coaches involved with Zimbabwe rugby and they are doing the same thing, trying to really get their structures in place to be able to hold talent,” Pocock said on Monday.
“Sure, you are going to lose your best overseas, but in an ideal world, they will be playing overseas and then coming back for international duties.
“What you see a lot of in the world is players going overseas at a young age and then representing another country, which for smaller teams obviously hurts a little.”
Pocock is the most high-profile Zimbabwean to have pursued an elite-level rugby career elsewhere.
Born in Gweru, he was just 12 years old when he and his family were forced to flee the country as their farm became one of thousands seized by government-backed forces. The young Pocock landed in Brisbane, Australia, and made himself into one of the greatest Wallabies of all time.
But the open-side specialist is far from being the only Zimbabwe-born player to shine in other colours on the world stage.