BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
HIGHLY-RATED South Africa-based Zimbabwean rugby starlet Vernon Matongo has made a big step in his rugby career after signing his first professional contract with South African Rugby Union franchise Western Province.
Matongo’s handlers Esportif, who represent junior players and full-fledged internationals, congratulated their client on his career breakthrough.
“Congratulations to our big man Vernon Matongo who has worked hard this year to earn himself a professional contract with DHL Western Province. Vernon is currently studying at Stellenbosch University and was involved in the Western Province Under-20 side that was involved in this year’s competition final,” Esportif said in a statement.
The 19-year-old tight-head prop was an integral member of the Western Province Under-20 side which reached Provincial Under-20 Championship final last month, where they narrowly lost against Lions.
After being rewarded with a professional contract, Matongo has now set his sights on breaking into Western Province’s Currie Cup squad ahead of next season.
Matongo is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Zimbabwean rugby.
He made an impact as a mere 12-year-old prop when he played for Zimbabwe Under-13 at the 2014 Under-13 SA Rugby Craven Week in Durban while he was still at Alexandra Park Primary School in Harare.
After being awarded a scholarship at the Northwood School in Durban, Matongo was immediately snapped up by the Sharks.
He played for the Sharks Under-16 and Under-18 sides at the Craven Week the following year before earning a selection to the South Africa Under-16 team and the South Africa Rugby Union Elite Player Development Rugby camp in 2018.
Last year, the former Northwood School rugby team vice-captain was awarded a scholarship at Stellenbosch University where he will be studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Science.
Northwood School yesterday congratulated Matongo on getting a contract at Western Province.
“Well done to old boy and former head prefect Vernon Matongo on signing a professional contract with WP rugby. Well done Vernon!”
Matongo is expected to play an important role in the Sables’ campaign for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
He was recently included in the national team which is currently participating in the World Rugby Stellenbosch Challenge in Stellenbosch, but withdrew from the squad due to academic commitments.
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