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Friday Nov 24, 2017

WATCH: Zimbabwe rugby tribute as country celebrates promising future

WATCH: Zimbabwe rugby tribute as country celebrates promising future
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As a nation, Zimbabwe received a huge boost this week with the news that their former oppressive leader will rule no longer. With that comes a huge amount of optimism, and the hope that they can get another shot at making an impact on the rugby field.

Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, has a proud rugby heritage and played in the first two Rugby World Cups in 1987 and 1991. They came very close to making it to the 2015 edition, but are out of the running for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

They have produced a number of top quality players over many years though, many of which have felt compelled to move to neighbours South Africa.

The economy and lack of funding has meant that staying in Zimbabwe to be a professional rugby player was simply not possible, so the move across the border has been a natural step for many.

THE BEAST AND THE FLYER

This weekend the Springboks’ most capped prop, Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtwarira, will play his 98th Test. He hails from Zimbabwe but moved, like Tonderai Chavhanga, Brian Mujati and many others.

“Because of professionalism and the money coming into the game now, these youngsters coming out of Zim.. of course they are going to look to greener pastures to better themselves financially,” says former Zimbabwean and Springbok winger, Ray Mordt.

“If you see a young man who is good at the game obviously you are going to tell them that they gotta make their bucks whilst the sun still shines, because rugby is not a long career; it’s a short time.”

Speedster Chavhanga, who famously scored six tries on Springbok debut, is an example of that.

“As much as I would have loved to play for Zimbabwe, I knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to play professional rugby. The only way for that to happen was for me to come to South Africa,” he said.

It’s an unfortunate reality, but the hope is that in time things will turn around again. The country still produces has a strong schools system, but they are currently considered ‘Third Tier’, with a ranking of 46th in the world.

A FAMOUS WIN

The oldest clubs in the country were formed in 1894, with the Rhodesia Rugby Football Union founded a year later in 1895. It was later renamed to Zimbabwe Rugby Union in 1980, when the country changed names as well.

The touring British Lions teams used to play against them, first in 1938. Then, a famous victory.

In 1949 the Rhodesia team famously beat the touring All Blacks side 10-8 in Bulawayo. Three days later they played them again, that time drawing 3-3.

TALENT

Zimbabwean Kennedy Tsimba, the highly skilled former Cheetahs flyhalf who many felt should have got a Springbok cap, says that there is still plenty of talent in the beautiful country.

“Talent will never go away; it’s like a tree that keeps on growing even if you cut off a branch, another one keeps on growing.”

The great David Pocock, of course, is Zimbabwean and only moved to Australia with his family as a teenager, and former Force teammate Kyle Godwin has a similar story. England back Brad Barritt’s father and grandfather both played for Rhodesia.

Then there is the man who scored one of the most famous Rugby World Cup tries of all, Takudzwa Ngwenya, who only moved to the USA after completing high school in Zimbabwe. Not to mention former Springbok captains Bob Skinstad and Gary Teichman, who both originally hail from Zimbabwe.

As this great tribute video shows, Zimbabwe has had it’s fair share of rugby talent over the years and we can only hope that this week’s news is a positive step that will lead to more funding for sports programmes, so that rugby continues it’s rich heritage in the country.

credit: realrugby

5 Comments

  •  rugbydump
    rugbydump

    A backflip might have looked out of place!

    Reply
  •  rugbydump
    rugbydump

    Fair points but the gulf is really too huge at the moment. And considering that a fairly widespread opinion is that SA may be heading the way of Zim, there are more pressing concerns to deal with in the country, unfortunately.

    Reply
  •  canafrikaaner
    canafrikaaner

    love the oldschool style, score a beautiful try, jog back with a smile. so humble

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I know if they've moved to SA as youngsters it must be hard for them to look back, especially if they have family, friends and a life in SA, but it'd be incredible if some of these top SA Zimbabweans could head back and be involved in upping the game in their country of birth. Maybe SA rugby could do some sort of partnership coaching program or something. The problem with the whole situation is that it will take players to sacrifice their professional futures by staying at home to create a trend... The problem as i see it is that the move to SA will be far too obvious a choice to refuse (if you have the goods), but that will only go on to encourage more up and coming youngsters to emulate these old heads and follow them. Maybe starting a super rugby team? Or having some annual fixture against a big name like SA etc..

    Reply

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  • Awesome video. Massive shame. Hope it gets better... somehow...

    Reply

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WATCH: Zimbabwe rugby tribute as country celebrates promising future | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos