HARARE – Losson Mtongwiza has always had a romantic connection to the Rugby World Cup since he keenly followed Zimbabwe’s progress at the 1991 edition as a star-struck 17-year-old Prince Edward schoolboy.

That early experience for the famed Harare boys’ school learner strongly aroused aspiration in him to also desire to go to the World Cup one day.

And he has indeed been to the World Cup – four of them. Not however with Zimbabwe, as he would have loved. Because that 1991 World Cup in Britain would remain the last time Zimbabwe has featured in the greatest rugby showcase on earth.

Mtongwiza has been travelling to the World Cup in his personal capacity over the last four consecutive tournaments, to equip himself with the skills and knowledge of running the game at the highest level in his home country.

2011 in New Zealand. 2015 in England. 2019 in Japan, and 2023 in France.

“Throughout those many years, I have seen various plans and programmes that are good, and some not so good for the union (Zimbabwe Rugby Union),” Mtongwiza told SportsCast on Wednesday.

“I have had many interactions with visiting teams, and visited several countries. I took those visits as learning experiences. I spent at least three weeks (at the World Cups) studying how these tournaments are put together and run. Now I want to take my country Zimbabwe with me to the World Cup, for my fellow countrymen to experience the magic of this wonderful tournament. Together we will go to the World Cup. It’s time!’

The 50-year-old Harare entrepreneur has been one of the two vice-presidents of the current Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) executive since 2017, his second tenure in that role with the first one having been achieved when he was just 30.

The seasoned official believes that his two decades in the administration of Zimbabwean rugby, which started at the young age of 29, has given him a bird-eye’s view of the state of rugby in his country to enable him to successfully structure a return to Zimbabwe’s former glory in this sport.

Mtongwiza is running for president of the ZRU at a watershed elective AGM in Harare on 25 May.

While he has been a board deputy for seven years, Mtongwiza reckons becoming the number one at the ZRU head offices – if given the mandate next week – will give him the platform to execute his vision and strategy without bottlenecks.

“I have enjoyed playing a supportive role in the game for well over two decades while I was building my business,” he said.

“Now I am ready to run for the top job with the experience I’ve acquired.  I will have ample time on my hands, as I have all the structures I need in place.”

As a player in the mid-90s, Mtongwiza represented Zimbabwe at Under-20 and Under-21 levels, and turned out domestically for Old Hararians and Harare Sports Club.

He soon realised he was cut for administration at a young age, becoming chairman of Harare Province in 2003 and then enjoying his first tenure as ZRU vice-president in 2004. For many years Mtongwiza has held several influential roles at the hugely successful Old Hararians, his boyhood club, the latest position being that of club-president.

Additionally, he is a previous team manager of Zimbabwe’s 15s and Sevens national sides.

Mtongwiza lists his “five key-points” as development, governance, infrastructure, administration, and high-performance.

He breaks them down as:

Development – Training and education, training 17 to 22-year-olds in coaching refereeing and medical level one. Target upper sixes and tertiary institutions, register them plus create a social media platform for all newly-trained coaches. Encourage all the newly trained to form new teams. Encourage and develop new administrative boards in all provinces.

Governance – To update and clean up the ZRU constitution in line with recommendations from World Rugby and other stakeholders. To include the gender and equity policy. To consolidate and audit the financials of all pillars of Zimbabwe Rugby (including the Sables, Cheetahs, women’s rugby, Under-20 and schools).

Infrastructure – Acquire a long lease on a piece of land and build union offices that will have a gym and a dining hall near a field of play. To make a deliberate effort to secure, adapt and upgrade a field that will be a second option to the current fields in Harare in preparation to host national team games.

Administration – To engage a Director of Rugby to drive various union programmes, a full time position with KPIs (key-performance indicators). To engage a Director of High-Performance to drive the new union HP programme. To procure and sell affordable replica kit. To engage international partners on a need to consider, discuss and possibly enter a commercial equity deal, so as to secure the long-term financial sustainability of rugby in Zimbabwe. Selling broadcasting and sponsorship rights. Running events in partnership with an experienced minority shareholder, with hope of enhancing our commercial value. To develop a comprehensive register of all players and coaches in the country.

High-performance – The ultimate aim of this is to create a sustainable high-performance programme. Create three regional hubs with Mutare (35 players), Bulawayo (40 players) and Harare (75 players). These players to have a mix of 50 percent senior players, 25 percent Under-20 men and 25 percent women. To provide a gym programme, nutritional requirements, sports technology and analysis performance for pre, during and post-season strength and conditioning. To create an Under-20 and Under-23 academies. The Under-23 academy will double up as Zimbabwe A. To create games for both teams locally and regionally. To create annual tours for both academies. To partner two top South African franchises for the purpose of exchanging expertise, player development, referee annual tours and development. Coaches’ development and support.


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