THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president John Falkenberg has responded to allegations of racism levelled against the association by national team manager Losson Mtongwiza.
Falkenberg was away in South Africa when a letter addressed to him was leaked to local media in which Mtongwiza alleged that white individuals within the ZRU were working towards pushing out all blacks from key positions in the game.
ZRU immediately released a statement denying the allegations on Friday, saying the union has an open policy which allows the integration of people of all races in rugby.
Commenting personally on the issue for the first time, Falkenberg said the racism claims against ZRU were false and his background in local rugby circles spoke for itself.
“I was very surprised by the accusations especially coming from a man of Losson’s stature with his standing in the rugby community. I totally refute the accusations about racism.
“I was educated at Prince Edward in the 80s. I coached Prince Edward and predominantly black sides such as Old Hararians and also at national level. As far as I’m concerned I’m not a racial person and everybody who knows me agrees that I’ve always been fair,” Falkenberg – who coached former Springbok flyer Tonderai Chavhanga at Under-16 level — said.
Falkenberg said ZRU had sought guidance from the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and was hopeful the issue would be resolved amicably as the national side eyes qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“We’ve got to move forward because we’ve got a World Cup to qualify for and that is what we are working hard on to make sure we have got the best chance of qualifying. We have to take a negative and turn it into a positive for Zimbabwe rugby,” he added.
“At this stage we have sought guidance from the Sports ministry and the SRC and we are awaiting their guidance on how to proceed. But as an association we believe everything that we have done as a union has been in accordance with our constitution and within the guidelines set by the SRC. Obviously if there are issues there they have to be addressed.”