The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many sporting activities across the globe.
Business Times journalist Phillimon Mhlanga (PM) spoke to Aaron Jani (AJ)
following his recent election for a second term as president of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU), to get how he plans to return the sport to its
The former Old Miltonians player, who earned 32 caps with Sables also spoke about the economic consequences for rugby after it plunged
into financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sport is a classic contact sport and consequently it remains banned due to the deadly
virus. He also expressed his desire to professionalise the
Below are excerpts of the interview:
PM: What are you going to focus on in your second term as President?
AJ: My focus in the short term is to ensure we are adequately prepared for the World Cup qualifiers which are likely to take place in 2022.
This means ensuring we participate in all international competitions for the Sables (including the Gold Cup , Victoria Cup and SuperSport Challenge).
In the long-term, it also means we must prepare and set up structures to increase through put to all national teams. The numbers will come
from government schools and these must be capacitated with infrastructure. We need coaches, referees, medical stuff and rugby equipment.
We also must continue with Old Mutual development plan which continues from the Tag Rugby programme which focuses on non-contact
introduction to rugby rules. We must also develop administrators including managers.
PM: Now that you are in your second term, what would you want to change tomorrow?
AJ: I would love Zimbabwe Rugby to be 100% professional, it’s the only
way to go. We must also get government schools to play rugby . This will increase numbers and allow us to separate 15s and 7s.
PM: What are the current burning issues in the sport that need to be addressed and how do you plan to deal with them?
AJ: There are several burning issues in the sport. We need to eliminate age
cheating. In schools, it had begun to disrupt fixtures and has caused a lot of confusion.
We have introduced a programme called ScrumIT.
This generally involves registering all rugby players, including those who are just starting in schools. This means once you are registered your
age is captured and cannot be changed. Hopefully this will gradually reduce cheating.
Another pressing matter is the professionalisation of the sport, this is where the sport is going and we must keep up.
PM: What legacy would you like to leave as ZRU president?
AJ: I would like my legacy to follow my predecessors as one of the presidents who played a small part in returning Zimbabwe Rugby
to its rightful place as a power house in African Rugby and the International stage.
PM: Any plans to start the national league this year given the deadly COVID-19 pandemic?
AJ: We will be guided by the Ministry through Sports and Recreation Commission. So, l hope we can play some rugby in the last quarter of the year. If that happens , our focus would be provincial tournaments. We will continue with the Super 6 but only in 2021.