The Sunday Mail
Deputy Sports Editor
THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU), which has upped its bid to ensure the senior team — the Sables — adequately prepares for the 2023 World Cup qualifiers, recently seconded national coach Brendan Dawson to New Zealand.
Dawson considers himself lucky to have escaped the coronavirus scourge after coming back home from his 10-day coaching assignment in New Zealand.
Instead, the coach hopes the newly acquired expertise will spur the Sables into qualifying for World Cup qualification, which is one of the targets set for them by ZRU.
As of Friday, New Zealand had recorded its biggest single-day increase of Covid-19 cases, with 11 new cases, which took the total number of the people infected to 39.
The Pacific Ocean state has also closed its borders to non-residents, while in Auckland, libraries, pools and recreation centres have been closed.
Also, the use of cash in public transport has been banned.
During his stint in the country, Dawson was attached to Super Rugby outfit Hurricanes.
“It was quite an eye-opening and memorable experience for me and Sables manager Jason Maritz,” said Dawson.
“We went there, way before the coronavirus had hit New Zealand; managing to finish our trip unaffected, and I left just before the first cases surfaced.
“We went there during the week of the Hurricanes Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs; spending the week with them as they trained, and actually managed to watch the game in front of a capacity crowd,” he said.
Dawson praised the New Zealand approach, which he said values simplicity over everything else.
“It was amazing how they operate . . . they have very simple and modest equipment, gymnasiums and training drills and routines.
“What I believe separates them from everyone else is the passion and dedication from individuals.
“Players take a more front-row seat into the effort that is put in training and game performances.
“There is a lot of self-motivation and self-criticism, as each player is held accountable for the effort they put in and the results that come out.
“And as a coach, I believe that makes our jobs easier,” he said.
Dawson now intends to use some of the things he learnt in New Zealand to enrich the Sables.
“I just got back and am yet to do a debrief with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union.
“The SuperSport Rugby Challenge Cup being postponed is a huge blow to our plans, but it is necessary in light of the coronavirus.
“We will give it a couple of weeks, after which I intend to sit down with the union and map a way forward.
“We still have the Africa Cup to plan for, and once the situation settles, we will need to regroup and start preparing for that.
“I hear some of the foreign-based players are back home from their bases, while others are aiming at returning to the national set-up.
“I will need to talk to all these players to find out who is available and who is not,” Dawson said.
ZRU president Aaron Jani said the decision to send Dawson to New Zealand was in line with their vision to ensure they take all the key steps that could aid the Sables in their World Cup qualification bid.
“For the ZRU we are very happy to have this opportunity. It is part of our journey to professionalism. We are learning from those who are ahead of us.
“To vary our experiences, we are studying what happens in New Zealand as well as South Africa, who are undoubtedly some of the top leaders in world rugby,’’ Jani said.