WELL-RESPECTED Zimbabwean rugby match official Mudiwa Mundawarara is expected to spearhead Rugby Africa’s aggressive push to improve the standard of officiating in Africa after being appointed the continental governing body referees manager yesterday.

Rugby Africa confirmed Mundawarara’s appointment together with that of Tunisian Maha Zaoui as women’s rugby manager before expressing confidence that the duo would help “evolve rugby on the continent”.

Mundawarara will lead the implementation of Rugby Africa’s new “Match Official Pathway” within Rugby Africa, which aims at elevating the standard of refereeing on the continent in line with international standards.

The vastly experienced Zimbabwean match official boasts over 30 years of rugby refereeing experience on the pitch and 28 years on the administrative side during which he served as president of the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees’ Society.

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Over the last decade, Mundawarara has also served as World Rugby’s educator for match officiators as well as being a World Rugby accredited citing commissioner.

Mundawarara said he was delighted to have been given the new role before paying tribute to the South African Rugby Union and French Rugby Federation for their support in his career.

“I am greatly honoured to have been offered this important role. I have worked with every one of the team members before, and I am really looking forward to working more closely with them all,” he said.

“Over the years, the support of the South African Rugby Union and French Rugby Federation has been tremendous and I am pleased that it will continue with greater emphasis on talent identification, training and coaching of referees from the rest of the continent.

“This will eventually lead to greater opportunities for them through a selection process drawn from the strengthened development cohorts.”

Rugby Africa president Khaled Babbou welcomed Mundawarara and Zaoui’s appointments to the new roles and believes they will make a significant contribution to the game’s development on the continent.

“We are very happy to strengthen our team of staff with two experienced and dedicated members. I have no doubt that the newly-appointed managers will make a significant difference, given their background of expertise and strong potential of the roles. We are at a tipping point where African Rugby is becoming more visible and a serious player on the global stage as well,” Babbou said.

“Women’s Rugby is a game changer and one of our strategic priorities as Rugby Africa, where we can take leadership. Fair play is at the heart of our sport and consistent decision-making and refereeing at all levels of the game are necessary to provide a professional framework for our member unions.”