CYPRIAN Mandenge is the new Sables rugby head coach after signing a four-year deal while Danny Hondo is taking over as the new Cheetahs boss.
Mandenge takes over from Brendan Dawson while Hondo replaces Gilbert Nyamutsamba in the Sevens team.
There were changes in the national Under-20 set-up with Brendon Brider replacing Nsikelelo Sibanda while George Mukorera and Abigail Kawonza were named the national women’s XVs and Sevens coaches respectively.
Confirming the new appointments, Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) director of coaching Brighton Chivandire said they had set various targets for the new coaches, with the main goal being the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“The coaches are on four-year contracts renewable annually,” Chivandire said. “There were obviously several candidates, some very competent coaches applied for these jobs and we are proud they stood out and were selected to be the national coaches.
“Specific targets have been set for the specific coaches for the various national teams. Obviously we are looking ahead to qualification for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 as our main goal. As we walk that path to 2019 there are going to be other regional and international tournaments and the head coaches are going to be responsible for those.”
Chivandire, who led the national Under-20 side to qualification for the Junior World Rugby Trophy three times, said they were looking forward to returning to the prestigious tournament failing to qualify for the last two editions.
“For the Under-20s as you are all aware we have not qualified for the Junior World Rugby Trophy for the last two years and the new national Under-20 coach should make sure we qualify for that tournament,” he said.
“The Cheetahs have two main tournaments this year, the first one being the qualifiers for the (HSBC) World Sevens Series circuit and then secondly the Africa Cup Sevens in Kenya which acts as the qualifier for the Olympics.
“The Women Sevens team is going to an African qualifier in South Africa which acts as the qualifier for Rio 2016. Those are the key tournaments that we are looking at in 2015.”
Mandenge — who had been heavily tipped for the Sables coaching post — credited the team’s former mentor Dawson, saying he set a solid foundation towards qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan.
Mandenge said Dawson had left the team in a better state despite Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for this year’s global showpiece in England.
“Well I must start by saying the foundation has already been made,” Mandenge said at a press briefing held at the ZRU offices in Harare.
“Looking at where Brendan Dawson started and where he left the team, I think he has left the team better.”