By Paul Munyuki
Zimbabwe’s preparations for the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 in Salt Lake City, USA, have been boosted with the arrival of South African coach Nico de Villiers, who will assist coaches Brighton Chivandire and Godwin Murambiwa.
De Villiers, who is a former South African Under 21 tighthead prop, has a number of qualifications, both in coaching and in strength and conditioning, and is part of the Stellenbosch Rugby Academy technical team, so has plenty to offer the Young Sables.
“His coming here is part of the International Rugby Board development programme which was organised through Jean-Luc Barthes (the IRB Regional Development Manager for French-speaking Africa), the ZRU (Zimbabwe Rugby Union) and the Young Sables committee,” explained U20 committee chairman Aaron Jani.
“Upon our return from Georgia last year we did a SWOT (Strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and we found out that lack of game time in preparation for tournaments was one of the key areas that was letting us down.
“We also noted that there was need for us to keep in touch with the rapid changes in the technical aspect of the game. So we resolved to approach the IRB to assist in these two aspects of the game and that is why we have De Villiers coming to work with our coaches here courtesy of the IRB.”
An IRB certified educator holding a Level 2 coaching certificate, De Villiers has a masters degree in high performance and sports science and is also a certified strength and conditioning coach. At Stellenbosch Rugby Academy, De Villiers is the forwards coach and is also the head of conditioning.
“He is specialised in strength and conditioning and he is also a scrimmaging coach who will also assess the fitness of all our players so that the coaches make more informed decisions,” continued Jani. “He will also carry out informative sessions for selected coaches in strength and conditioning in both pre season preparation and in season training.”
Zimbabwe will play in the Junior World Rugby Trophy for a third successive year, having successfully defended their Africa Under 19 title last year, beating Namibia once again in the final.
They will hope for better success in Salt Lake City, having won only one of their eight matches over the last two years in the Under 20 tournament, but have a difficult draw with Canada, Georgia and Japan - runners-up the last two years - their Pool B opponents.
Paul Munyuki is a rugby writer with The Herald of Zimbabwe.