The Sunday Mail
SABLES gaffer Brendon Dawson has no qualms about patting himself on the back after his charges’ successful year.
In just eight months, he helped turn the senior national rugby team from laughing stocks to Victoria Cup champions.
When the 52-year-old former Zimbabwe captain injected some new blood into the team, he gave some fringe players a big break and made the hard decision of calling time on some of the old horses.
Some might even argue that the seasoned coach has introduced his own brand of rugby to the Sables outfit.
In roping in Tonderai Chavhanga as his assistant, Dawson has made a dream come true. The former Springbok winger was finally able to plough back into his country of origin.
As an added bonus, he managed, through the team’s performances, to get some fans from the bleachers and win some new ones.
But the man does not believe in blowing his own trumpet.
“Look, 2019 has been a good year.
“When I took up the job earlier this year, we set goals for ourselves. I am happy to report that we managed to achieve each and every one of them.
“The goals for the SuperSport Challenge Cup were to get some new blood into the team and expose them to competitive rugby, which we managed to do.
“Admittedly, we would have loved to get a couple of wins under our belt, but the scores and the performances were not that bad.
“The Victoria Cup then came and our first and foremost goal was to win it, which we did.
“The unbeaten run was just an added bonus and it helped us during the Zambia game as it had given us a good platform. We went into that match targeting to win by two tries. We scored seven and conceded just one, which inevitably gave us the Cup,” Dawson said.
With the Sables’ wins and accolades now in the rear view mirror, Dawson is optimistic about the 2020 season.
Dawson has clearly laid out goals and plans.
“Next year the goal is to win the Africa Cup and retain the Victoria Cup.
“In 2019, we had a very competitive squad with many players raising their hands up to be counted. But we are not done yet, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“More players have since come up expressing their interest to play for Zimbabwe. Therefore, there will be competition at every position,” he said.
Dawson’s bosses have already started planning for another go at the SuperSport Challenge and defending their Victoria Cup.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union president Aaron Jani is aware of the tough task that awaits the Sables next year.
“The year 2020 is a loaded season.
“Game time is paramount and we have already applied to take part in the SuperSport Challenge Cup next year.
“This year’s deal was on a trial basis. We are waiting for feedback from SARU on whether we will be readmitted. The response will also tell us the nature of the deal should it go through.
“There is also the Africa Cup and Victoria Cup, not to mention a couple of tours we hope to facilitate,” Jani said.
With Jani’s leadership pulling out the stops in their quest for a place at the 2023 World Cup, the ZRU bosses know that every season in the build-up to the next global showcase will be fundamental.
The Sables will begin their 2020 Africa Cup campaign with a home date against Ghana who are coached by their former mentor, Collin Osborne, on June 20, before travelling to Tunisia for their next Pool D assignment.