Much ado about Russell

Tinashe Kusema
THE Sports and Recreation Commission’s decision to the suspend the Zimbabwe Rugby Union board, over 80 days ago, could be a classic case of much ado about nothing. It took the SRC over a month to announce an interim board and no sooner had that board been announced did reports emerge that former president Nyararai Sibanda and his lieutenants Noddy Kanyangarara and Tapiwa Mangezi were challenging their suspension. And it is up to interim chairman Russell Karimazondo that the sport is looking for salvation.

Karimazondo, who made his Test debut for the Sables in 1998, has been given six months to restore order. But the former Sables winger has not had the best of starts as two proposed members of the interim board, Bongani Zamchiya and Judith Chiyangwa, have turned down an invitation to be part of the circus. Faced with such a mess Karimazondo has been a ghostly figure, shying away from public appearances or interviews. Last week The Sunday Mail ambushed the interim ZRU chairman and he gave a brief but insightful view into how intends to go about business.

“Contrary to public opinion, I only got into office last Thursday (September 28), and have since started getting briefings and a lay of the land. I have no intention of making public appearances just to show face and hope that my private life will be respected. I have been given the task of steadying the ship and hope to be judged by my works and not public appearances,” said Karimazondo.

Karimazondo certainly has his work cut out. The recently christened Inter-City League has been suspended indefinitely, while the Sables are without a coach six months before the country launches yet another Africa Cup campaign. The Africa cup campaign will also double as qualifiers for the 2019 IRB World Cup in Japan.

Given the fact that the Sables narrowly escaped relegation, which would have eliminated them from next year’s Africa Gold Cup, it is apparent that the national rugby team needs an engine overhaul. While the state of affairs and Karimazondo’s behind the scenes approach do not inspire much confidence, former Sables coach and skipper Brendan Dawson is an oasis of optimism.

“I have known Russell (Karimazondo) for decades now and he has always been a straight and honest man.captained Karimazondo at the Sables. Finally, the sport has someone who has played the game at the highest level and one who understands both the administrative side of the game and the players’ needs and wants. Hopefully, his plans will pan out and he stays longer.,” said Dawson, who

Given that Dawson, for a while now, has been linked with and shown interest in the Sables coaching job, his opinion could be biased. However, Dawson is not alone in singing Karimazondo’s praises.

“When I first met Russell (Karimazondo), back in 1995 or somewhere there, he was still a basketball player and I was one of the people who convinced him to try his luck in rugby,” said Old Miltonians coach Zivanai Dzinomurumbi.

“Over time we bonded and played together and have always admired his dedication to his craft. He has what it takes to turn this ship around.”

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