Churchill Coach Hits Back

Churchill Bulldogs coach Geoff Madhake has mounted a spirited defence to clear his name on allegations that he verbally abused a referee in an act of misconduct perceived to have left his team at the risk of expulsion from the Zimbabwe Schools Rugby Super 12 League.

Reg Querl, the league administrator, recently came out in fury against the long-serving Bulldogs mentor, threatening to have Churchill withdrawn from the most competitive school sports competition in the country due to Madhake’s reported altercation with the referee following a league match involving his team in July.

Querl, who is the Falcon headmaster, further instructed the Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Society not to entertain Madhake’s presence at the Bulldogs remaining matches were any of their members to officiate there.

As expected, however, Madhake will not go down without a fight.  In an interview with Suburban, the ex-Bulldogs captain and current Zimbabwe Under-20 assistant coach, declared he woud now turn his attention on Querl.

“Reg must state quite clearly what it is that concerns him with Churchill,’’ began Madhake, angrily.

“Previously he said his school would not come to play against Churchill because our players were over-aged but he failed to provide any evidence despite being challenged to do so. In the end, he just wanted to soil our reputation merely because our humbly-assembled side had humiliated his expensively-prepared team 58-10 at our Nigel Phillip home ground.

“Since other schools like Peterhouse and St George’s refused to go along with Falcon in our boycotting our matches, Querl is now seeking other reasons to destroy the wonderful project we are undertaking for Zimbabwe youth rugby here at Churchill,’’ he insinuated.

While Churchill did not enjoy a good season, losing twice to Prince Edward and once to Peterhouse, the school – which was the last to be admitted to the elite Super 12 League - has groomed a bottomless list of some of the most impressive players to turn out for the various national senior and age-group teams in recent years under the tutelage of the twin pair of Madhake and Bob Mahari.

With their executive partner Mandi Sithole, the duo runs an academy that has birthed Pitbulls, who won the ZRU Harare Province Under-21 title this year. The academy is based at Churchill Boys High School and dominated by schoolboys and fresh school leavers.

On his bust-up with referee Tinashe Kamwenje, Madhake was not apologetic but stressed that Churchill did not come into the matter.

“Harsh exchanges between coaches and referees are part of the flow of things in every sport, rugby included, and in every country, Zimbabwe included. It is up to the referee of the day as the authority to consider the magnitude of the argument and he has the discretion to send the coach to the terraces.

“In the case being referred to, the referee saw no reason for that and the report he is said to have filed alleging the verbal exchange is dated five weeks after the incident as if it was written upon request. Further my words with him on the day had nothing to do with the team, let alone the school and so I do not see why Churchill would suffer collateral action,’’ he charged.

A life servant of the game, Madhake was in 1987 named the youngest Bulldogs skipper when he was only a Form Four student. He returned to the school in later years to assume charge of its rugby development desk in the sports department.

He has since been credited with Churchill’s meteoric rise to the top of schools rugby, closely assisted by Mahari, a former student of Lomagundi College.

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