Makwanya embraces new rugby role with assurance

26 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Makwanya embraces new rugby role with assurance BLAST FROM THE PAST . . . Tichafara Makwanya in action during his competitive days with the Zimbabwe Sables. Now, the retired flyhalf has found his own way of giving back to the sport as welfare manager

The Sunday Mail

Tinashe Kusema

TICHAFARA MAKWANYA recently took a step back from competitive rugby and is slowly starting to shift into the post-player chapter of his life.

Unfortunately, the rugby bug still has quite the hold on the former Zimbabwe international and his recent appointment into the Zimbabwe Sables setup seems to have stirred up some dormant feelings.

The Sables are in camp in preparation for their Africa Cup tie against Uganda in July, and interim coach Piet Benade recently roped in Makwanya as the team’s player welfare manager.

Makwanya, a former Zimbabwe flyhalf, is part of a star-studded technical team that also includes assistant coach Ricky Chirengende and the duo of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and Gert Smal, who have been brought to lend a hand.

Mtawarira, of course, is no stranger to the game as the retired Zimbabwe-born forward is a Rugby World Cup winner with South Africa (2019), while Smal is one of the great minds of the game and served as assistant coach to both South Africa and Ireland.

“Well, my current role within the Sables setup is as ‘player welfare manager’, and this means I am basically the go-between the coaches and the players,” said Makwanya.

“Player welfare is something I have always been passionate and vocal about, from my days as a player, and accepting the role was one of the easiest decisions to make.

“As there was a lot of honesty involved about the past and how we would want to move forward, accepting that role was easy.”

Makwanya has been with the team for a couple of months now and looks to be slowly embracing his new role.

“Just being around and seeing the coaches go through plays and drills with the team has made me a little jealous,” he                                                                                   said.

“That is my problem though. My hope is that the boys simply turn up and get some of the best coaching advice around.

“We recently had Gert Smal (former Bok and Irish coach) spend the week with us, helping the team, and I enjoyed watching him dish out his world-class input. It was amazing.”

With the Africa Cup just over a month away, the Sables have been putting in the work.

The tragic part is that the team is gravely lacking in competitive action, with Zambia all they have had as a sparring partner.

Neighbours Zimbabwe and Zambia locked horns during the Mwana Group International Schools Rugby Festival, a game the Sables narrowly escaped with a 32-28 win.

There are plans for a return leg to Zambia early next month, while Tests against Namibia and a European side in either the Netherlands or Sweden have also been rumoured to take place before the Africa Cup.

Makwanya believes all these games should leave the Sables in good stead for their match against Uganda.

“It really was an eye-opening match and lots of lessons were learnt,” said Makwanya of the Zambia match.

“The inexperience showed in how we struggled to close out the game after building a healthy lead.

“Test match rugby is about learning on the go and quickly making adjustments, which we didn’t do well. However, we learnt a lot and we should do better next time.”

Among the talking points from the game against Zambia was Zimbabwe’s kicking and the lack of match fitness and conditioning.

Makwanya acknowledged as much, but believes these are all solvable things that Benade and his technical team can correct in time for the match against Uganda.

“We missed two kicks out of a possible nine on the day, and I don’t really think it is that big an issue,” he said.

“Also, Piet (Benade) is a very accomplished kicker, so he has taken responsibility of that department and will help the guys improve.

“I have made myself available for those who may want my input. We are also blessed with a few good and accomplished kickers like Hilton (Mudariki), Boxer (Tadius Dzandiwandira) and Keegan (Joubert), so we are in a good space in that department

“Our conditioning, however, has been a major weakness but that’s being rectified on the pitch and in the gym. Results will follow soon.”

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