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Tsimba brothers in IRB Hall of Fame


DUBLIN — The International Rugby Board has inducted brothers Richard and Kennedy Tsimba, two of Zimbabwe’s finest sportsmen, into the IRB Hall of Fame.

Through their superb skills and ground-breaking exploits the Tsimba family name is held in the same high esteem in rugby as the Flower siblings, Andy and Grant, enjoy in cricket.

Richard — the first black player to represent Zimbabwe in international rugby and a veteran of two Rugby World Cups (1987 and 1991) – was bestowed with his honour posthumously as he tragically died in a car accident 12 years ago, aged just 34.

“I feel humbled and honoured to receive this accolade for Richard and I,” said Kennedy. “This induction gives me a feeling of accomplishment and acknowledgement of all the hard years of strife and work to get where I am now.”

“All the sacrifices made by the Tsimba family and others who have built me up over the years, who had belief in me even when I didn’t believe in myself at times.”

“The accolade will also hopefully mark an era in history that proves that you can come from nowhere and reach your goal and beyond, and open the doors for more black rugby players, and give them hope that they too can achieve great things.”

IRB vice-chairman and South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins presented Kennedy with the prestigious IRB Hall of Fame cap and pin at a special ceremony in Johannesburg today.

Hoskins said: “The Tsimba brothers have left an indelible mark on Rugby in Southern Africa. They are pioneers of the Game who will be remembered by generations to come. It is fitting that they will be captured in Rugby’s most famous place for memory, the IRB Hall of Fame.”

Nicknamed “The Black Diamond”, the centre announced his arrival on the global stage when he raced through the Romanian defence to score a dazzling try at Eden Park in Auckland, on the second day of the inaugural tournament.

Richard played 23 times for his country before signing off with a try on his farewell appearance against Japan in Belfast at RWC 1991.

Once considered amongst the best fly halves in the world, Richard’s younger brother Kennedy became the first black player to captain Zimbabwe when he took over from Brendan Dawson in 1998.

Kennedy signed off in 1999 with four Sables caps to his name, but his silky skills still had a platform on which to shine at club and provincial level. In 1997 Kennedy’s career took him to the UK, where he enjoyed a brief spell at Bath as understudy to RWC 2003 winner Mike Catt.

A product of the Prince Edward High School conveyor belt of rugby talent, Kennedy really came to prominence when he moved to South Africa where, at his peak, he was peerless.

He played Super 12 rugby for the Blue Bulls, producing many stellar performances. But the dazzling fly half reserved his best rugby for the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs, breaking a Free State record for the most points scored in a season (228), a feat which earned him the Currie Cup Player of the Year award in 2002.

He received the same honour again in 2008. “The King of Bloemfontein” — as he was affectionately known — holds the South African record for fastest player in first class history to reach 1,000 points.

Kennedy spent the twilight of his illustrious career at Griffons, before finally hanging up his boots in 2011 to concentrate on coaching, charitable work and his second love — music.

Besides his coaching job at Impala Sports, Tsimba founded the South African branch of a non-governmental organisation called ‘Rugby Without Borders’ that touches on the lives of the less fortunate.

The Tsimba name also lives on in rugby through his niece Aisha, the chairperson of Zimbabwe Women’s Rugby.

About IRB Hall of Fame

The IRB Hall of Fame honours Rugby greats who have enhanced the Game through their exceptional achievements. Players, entire teams, administrators, coaches, referees, members of the media and Rugby personalities are considered based on their outstanding contributions.

Each year, the IRB Hall of Fame recognises the achievements of individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the development of the Game worldwide. The theme of this year’s induction is “Rugby — a global Game” and celebrates Rugby’s expansion to become a global sport played by millions of men and women worldwide.

The IRB Hall of Fame was launched in 2006 with the induction of Rugby School and William Webb Ellis. —

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