BRITISH coach Collin Osborne could be in line to make a remarkable return to Zimbabwe rugby, having been included on the shortlist of candidates to take up the vacant Sables coaching job ahead of this year’s qualifiers for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Osborne, who is the current skills coach at English Premiership side Harlequins has, according to sources, declared his interest in the position which attracted some high-profile coaches before the close of applications last Wednesday.
Although Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) is yet to disclose the identity of coaches who have expressed interest in the vacant post, Standardsport has learnt that Osborne is one of two England-based coaches who have expressed their interest.
Kitts-born Osborne, the only black coach at the top-end of English rugby, worked in Zimbabwe as the country’s director of coaching and development and later as Zimbabwe coach from 1987 to 1990.
Standardsport could not confirm the identity of the other England-based coach.
However, Osborne appears to be the early favourite for the job, with the Harlequins man expected in the country later this month where he will also conduct open and closed rugby sessions with different rugby stakeholders from January 22-24.
Others include former South Africa coach Peter de Villiers, who is currently the director of rugby at the University of Western Cape and his compatriot Peter Engledow, who is currently in charge of Currie Cup side Griquas.
There were unconfirmed reports that the well-travelled former New Zealand coach John Mitchell, who is preparing for his first season with the South African Super Rugby outfit the Bulls, had also been earmarked for the vacant post.
Brendan Dawson leads the cast of local coaches who have applied for the job, while Cyprian Mandenge, who stepped down after a disappointing Gold Cup (formerly Africa Cup) campaign last year, has also applied for the vacant post.
The shortlisted candidates are expected to be interviewed by the newly-established ZRU technical committee headed by the country’s former director of rugby, Brighton Chivandire.
Chivandire, one of the most qualified coaches in Zimbabwe, has been involved in the game for over 20 years in various capacities.
Other members of the high-powered committee include former Sables player Bill Cornish, Zimbabwe’s first black rugby coach Godwin Murambiwa, businessman and head of the Zimbabwe Referees Society Gerald Chipumha and human resources expert Elijah Nyakurerwa.