A new era has dawned upon the Rwandan national rugby team as they progress further in their bid to become a competitive rugby playing nation.
In an attempt to professionalize rugby in the country, the Rwanda Rugby Federation (RRF) has appointed Gilbert Simbarashe Mandiringana as their first-ever strength and conditioning coach.
Gilbert joins the coaching staff of head coach Claude Ezoua and assistant coach John Livingstone Muhire and believes a lot of hard work lays ahead.
“Physical preparation is the basis of any good sporting performance and I look forward to a long and successful journey with the Silverbacks. Our goals will not be achieved overnight but will take years as we try to instill a culture of professional preparation in all our players” he says.
Gilbert an Exercise Physiologist from South Africa believes a larger investment is needed in Rwandan rugby if they are to constantly compete with their neighbors. With rugby seen still as relatively amateur in the country, a keen eye is firmly placed on the youth.
“If rugby is to progress well in this country, we will have to have systems and structures in place to develop the game amongst the youth, this should be our main objective. We need to set up academies for our young players to specifically develop them to be competitive on the international stage”
However, he believes that, for this current team, it is important to start slow and build their way up the African rugby rankings. With experienced coach Claude Aime Ezoua at the helm, preparations are well underway for a competitive fixture of Rugby Africa Cup against the Ivory Coast on 23rd November 2019 in Abidjan
“My role so far is to observe and assist the coach in any way I can whilst slowly introducing the ideas of sports science to the guys. I look forward to seeing how we develop but this can only be achieved by constant support from our federation, government, and sponsors. To condition an athlete to play at the highest level, it takes years of dedication coupled with the resources and facilities to make it happen” he explained.
While he believes the opening of a high-performance center is the only way to take Rwandan rugby to the next stage, the new coach remains optimistic and excited about the future of the Silverbacks.