ZIMBABWE star Shayne Makombe is over the moon after French club Rugby Club Compiegne extended his contract by another season, shaking off fears of termination due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The French domestic season came to a premature end in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, but a new term is now set to start on the weekend of September 12 and 13, much to the delight of the Sables centre.

And now before the brand new season begins, the 27-year-old Zimbabwean is currently in Lithuania, where he has signed a short-term contract with a club plying its trade in the six-team Baltic Top League.

“Through my mentor, (Zimbabwean youth coach) Farai Bob Mahari, I got to know the coach of the team I signed up with here in Lithuania,” Makombe told IndependentSport this week.

“He actually had a coaching stint at Churchill (Makombe’s former school) in Zimbabwe for four months. So after our season ended, we were in touch and he called and offered me this stint. I came here before and I love the country so it was an easy decision.”

Makombe added that the inactivity due to Covid-19 afforded him time for an analysis of the game and life in general.

“Not playing due to Covid didn’t feel like lost time as the main priority became health,” he said. “Personally, it also gave me a lot of time to introspect and appreciate a lot of things I may have taken for granted.”

The gradual return of sport around the world excites the mercurial Sables backliner, who was also a keen cricketer and footballer in his younger days.

“Sport has the power to unite and probably safe reintroduction will give hope to many as witnessed by the many leagues that have resumed,” said Makombe. “Rugby has a wonderful window to restructure for it to become more appealing globally and I hope the powers-that-be recognise the opportunity.”

Two kings and their uncanny parallels

Makombe, nicknamed “Zim Express” at the third-tier league French club, also spoke of his sadness over the departure of Zimbabwe’s assistant coach, Springbok record-holder Tonderai Chavhanga, who left the post citing increased work commitments.

“Tondies was an inspirational figure and he will be solely missed in the set-up. While I and other players are sad to see him go, his work and principles will still be applied in the system,” Makombe said. “He was uncompromising on professionalism and it’s something I’m big on myself. So I really loved working with him and I wish him well in his new endeavor.”