Rugby union boss Jani eyes another presidential term

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By Sport Reporter

ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) is set to elect a new executive into office on May 25, 2024.

Although it is now less than one month before the poll date, the ZRU board is yet to release the names of candidates running for office.

New has it on good authority that current president Aaron Jani will be in the thick of things as he seeks another term in office.

Current ZRU vice president, Lawson Mtongwiza seems to be ready for a bigger challenge, with his name being on the top list of those interested to be at the helm of rugby governing body.

Other than Jani and Mtongwiza, Gerald Sibanda is another candidate vying for the post. The former rugby player is currently the chairman of Real Betis Academy in Zimbabwe.

Does Jani deserve another term?

Of all the contestants, Jani is the only one that has been tested as he has been president for the past two terms, although he inherited the first one midway from Nyararai Sibanda before being voted into power for a second full term which is coming to an end.

During his tenure, the former Sables player has also elevated himself into a regional leader after assuming a post at Rugby Africa, where he is a treasurer in the current executive.

Other than that, during Jani’s era the Junior Sables won the Barthes Trophy twice in 2022 and 2023.

However, the sad part of the story is despite the team rise to be the flagship of rugby in the country through it’s results, Jani failed to honour the side as parents would always go all the way to fund for their children’s trips despite being on national duty.

Just recently, when Zimbabwe hosted the 2024 Barthes Trophy, the president openly told the media that the team was not going to get any allowance, rather staying in a hotel for camping was their reward.

Jani failed to motivate players by  ignoring their welfare. Just last week, messages flooded social media of Lady Sables complaining after receiving $60 allowance as token of appreciation for their time and service for the Zambia match, which was played at Prince Edward as part of the Mwana Group Schools Rugby Festival.

Besides paying players with peanuts, the ZRU under Jani has become so under-resourced that teams return tracksuits worn on matchdays.

WhatsApp messages gleaned by this reporter had ZRU official threatening players to return the tracksuits or risk being arrested.

Not only has Jani failed with the Lady Sables and Junior Sables, but also he has lapsed with the Sables.

Under his era, ZRU is nolonger in a position to pay flight fees for foreign based players to come for national duty.

What worries is the that in this day and era rugby remain a semi professional sport if not amateur as Jani has dismally failed during his two terms in office to attract sponsorship, at least towards a national league.

It was during Jani’s era that the annual prestigious Schools Rugby Festival, which has been previously sponsored by COTTCO and Dairibord, ceased to run for nearly three years, only to be resurrected this year by Dr Kuda Mutendi of Mwana Group, a rugby fanatic who have been putting in resources to fund developmental rugby.