ZIMBABWE might not be considered a powerhouse in world rugby but continues to enjoy an influence on the global game following yet another honour for players who trace their roots to this country.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Eight years after the Tsimba brothers Richard (now late) and Kennedy were inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame, two Zimbabwe born former international rugby stars, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and David Pocock were named in the World Rugby’s Team of the Decade.
The legendary duo’s inclusion in World Rugby Team of the Decade as part of the Special Edition Awards held on Monday cements Zimbabwe’s growing status as a conveyer belt of talent to the rugby world.
The World Rugby Awards Special Edition celebrated members of the rugby family who have provided outstanding service during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as players and teams who have starred over the last decade in a virtual show.
The Men’s Team of the Decade features a strong South African front-row presence in Mtawarira, who retired from Test rugby after guiding the Springboks to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Mtawarira is one of the three South Africans in the Men’s Team of the Decade together with abrasive hooker Bismarck du Plessis and the Springboks’ most prolific try-scorer Bryan Habana.
The 35-year old Harare born Mtawarira represented South Africa an incredible 117 times in Test rugby since making his debut against Wales at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on June 14, 2008.
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Mtawarira, who attended Prospect Primary as well as Churchill School and Peterhouse College before moving to South Africa, is the most capped prop in South African history and the third most capped Springbok of all time behind lock Victor Matfield (127) and Habana (124).
There was also a place in the Team of the Decade for former Australia campaign Pocock, who was born in Gweru and relocated with his family to Australia at the age of 12 at the height of the chaotic land reform programme.
The young Pocock landed in Brisbane, Australia, and made himself into one of the greatest Wallabies of all time but he has maintained a strong connection with the country of his birth.
Pocock retired from the international game after last year’s Rugby World Cup and walked away from all forms of rugby two months ago before revealing plans to assist Zimbabwe to qualify for their first World Cup since 1991.