HARARE – The Zimbabwe Rugby Union has refused to give in to a player power storm by sacking 10 players who revolted against national team manager Losson Mtongwiza on Wednesday, demanding his ouster.
The 10, who include captain Costa Dinha, experienced centre Cleopas Makotose, flyhalf Tichafara Makwanya as well as the wing pairing of Tangai Nemadire and Gardner Nechironga have now been excluded from the 27-man Sables provisional squad in camp for Zimbabwe’s defence of their African rugby title in Madagascar next week.
Three will be dropped from the touring party today. Manager Mtongwiza has once again come under fire from senior players, who accused the long-serving rugby administrator of among others things, “treating the players like kids and meddling in team selection.”
A source within the union has however, blasted the rebelling players, accusing them of being scared of competition from a fresh and vibrant array of talent threatening to knock the old guard off their perch.
“No one owns the team, these guys are just afraid of competition,” said the source. “No one is guaranteed a place in the national side. Everyone who is Zimbabwean, or has Zimbabwean links and what’s to represent their country, can be picked.
“There is a tendency among some players that they have a monopoly over selection. Besides, if you look at the revolting players, only “Too Bad” (Tangai Nemadire) and Gardner (Nechironga) were certain of selection in the starting line-up.”
Senior player Cleopas Makotose, a former captain of the side, laughed off suggestions they were no longer good enough anyway to make the side.
“What completion?” he asked. “They must bring them (the new players) for a possibles v probables match.” He said in reference to the traditional trial match before major test or tournament.
Skipper Dinha told the Daily News last night: “It’s sad that the management would rather lose 10 senior players to keep a manager who is not wanted.It just shows you they value more and yet they forget without these players both Africa Cup and Victoria Cup would not be in their cabin if were not for the very people they are isolating.”
The Sables, meanwhile, have been dealt a big blow after star centre Daniel Hondo was ruled out of the tour due to injury. Hondo, who was expected to take over the captaincy in Antananarivo, fractured his hand during last weekend Sevens World Cup in Moscow.
Loose forwards Jacques Leitao and Andrew Rose will now battle it out for the captaincy.
Lions scrumhalf Guy Cronje has been tipped to make his test debut for Zimbabwe in the Confederation of African Rugby (Car) Group 1A event. The Sables need to stay up to keep their hopes of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup alive.
Forwards: Daniel Nhepera, Tapiwa Mangezi, Piet Joubert, Jakov Jakov, Keith Murray, Simbarashe Mandioma, Sanele Sibanda, Jan Ferreira, Simba Bwanya, Martin Wolfenden, Jacques Leitao, Andrew Rose, Biselele Tshamala, Lucky Sithole, Fortune Chipendo, Njabulo Ndlovu.
Backs: Phil Machisa, Kilvan Magunje, Boyd Rouse, Lenience Tambwera, Garth Ziegler, Guy Cronje, Shane Makombe, Steven Hunduza, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Craig Elcombe, Kudakwashe Chiwanza.