FORMER Zimbabwe rugby team assistant coach Cyprian Mandenge has emerged as the favourite to land the national XVs rugby coaching job left vacant by Brendan Dawson.
The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) is expected to name the new coaches for the various national teams before the end of the week after asking incumbents, whose contracts expire at the end of this month, to reapply for their jobs.
Mandenge, who served as Dawson’s assistant from 2007 to 2014, has applied for the Sables coaching post while Gilbert Nyamutsamba has also reapplied for his job as national Sevens rugby team coach.
Dawson, who took over as Sables mentor from Christopher Lampard in 2007 stepped down as the Sables coach at the end of last year after seven years in charge of the flagship national rugby side.
A highly placed source at the ZRU told our sister paper NewsDay Sport yesterday that Mandenge had the support of the majority of the ZRU executive committee, who are facilitating the process to appoint the new Sables coach.
Mandenge’s previous experience with the national XVs side, which narrowly missed out on qualification at this year’s Rugby World Cup, seems to have swayed the support in his favour.
“Mandenge is the frontrunner to take over as the Sables coach,” the source said.
“There is a general feeling that he has been assistant coach for a long time and deserves to be given a chance as the national coach.
“For the sake of continuity it will also be wise to elevate Mandenge because he has been with the team before while he has also enjoyed success at domestic level.”
Mandenge was Dawson’s trusted lieutenant when the Sables won their maiden Africa Cup title in 2012 before coming agonisingly close to qualifying for this year’s Rugby World Cup in England.
A panel made up of former Sables winger Aaron Jani, ex-women’s rugby administrator Judith Chiyangwa, ZRU director of rugby Brighton Chivandire and Tom Kazembe, conducted interviews with the interested candidates on Monday.
They were expected to submit their recommendations to the ZRU executive committee, who would then made the final decision before the official announcement to be made on Friday.
Besides the Sables and the Cheetahs, ZRU is expected to announce the new coaching set-ups national Under-18 and 20 teams, the women’s Sevens team and the new position of women’s national XVs team.