23 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views


Sports Reporter

HOW would the rugby world look like without the Zimbabwean GOLDEN touch?

Just imagine a world which never had a romantic flirtation with the Beast – Tendai Mtawarira?

The most capped prop in Springbok history, with 117 caps, the 17th most capped international forward of all-time and fifth most capped prop in the history of rugby union.

The third most capped Springbok of all-time, only Bryan Habana and Victor Matfield have made more appearances, and a World Cup winner in 2019.

A world which never had the privilege of being exposed to the talent of David Peacock, the open side flanker who powered his way into legendary status in Australia.

Twice, in 2020 and 2011, he was a finalist for the IRB International Player of the Year.

A world which never saw George Musarurwa Gregan in action for the Wallabies of Australia.

He was born in Lusaka – his father was an Australian while his mother was a Zimbabwean.

Today, he is the most capped Wallaby of all-time and won the 1999 IRB World Cup while, as captain, he lost in the final against England in 2003.

Even at the last World Cup, one of the finest breakout stars was Japanese baby-faced flier, Kotaro Munyaradzi Matsushima.

His mother, Taeko Matsushima, is Japanese while his father, the late journalist Rodrick Blackman Ngoro, was a Zimbabwean.

A world without the memories, which the likes of Ray Mordt, Ian Robertson, Andy McDonald, Salty du Rand, Adrian Garvey, Bobby Skinstad, David Denton, Gary Teichmann, Piet Greyling, Brian Mujati, Takudzwa Ngwenya and Tonderai Chavhanga have created, over the decades.

Clearly, the picture which emerges is that it would have been a very bleak world, without the golden touch of the Sables.

It’s a game which simply can’t escape its romantic flirtation with Zimbabwe.

On Saturday, at Twickenham, the home of English rugby, the game celebrated the triumph of another boy from the land of the Warriors.

Former St John’s schoolboy, Eli Snyman, celebrated winning the Premiership trophy with the Leicester Tigers after their dramatic 15-12 victory over Saracens.

It was the Tigers’ first Premiership title in NINE years and their NINTH overall championship.

Snyman, a former Zimbabwe youth captain, joined Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2021/22 season, having arrived from Italian club, Benetton Rugby.

He was born in Zimbabwe before joining the Blue Bulls youth programme in South Africa.

“In 2016, Snyman was selected to represent the Springboks Under-20s and made his Currie Cup debut for the Bulls in the same season,” the Tigers revealed when they signed him.

“Snyman made his Super Rugby debut during the 2019 season for The Bulls before signing with Treviso ahead of the 2019/20 European season.

Snyman’s played 20 matches, 17 in the Premiership campaign (751 minutes) and three in the Champions Cup (122 minutes).

In total, he was on the field for the Tigers in 873 minutes.

On average, he was in action for the Tigers 44 minutes per the 20 matches he represented his triumphant Tigers.

His first match was an 18-minute battle in the home game against Exeter on August 18, last year, while his first full game was the home tie against Newcastle, on January 2, this year.

He also played 80 minutes in the away game against Wasps on January 9, this year.

Snyman’s only try came in the match against Saracens.

When the Tigers wooed Snyman into their fold, head coach Steve Borthwick, was optimistic the Zimbabwe-born star would make a huge difference.

“He is a big, powerful and tough forward, with experience in both southern and northern hemisphere rugby, who will be a valuable addition to our pack at Tigers.

“At just 24, we are confident Eli’s best rugby is still ahead of him and excited about the improvement ahead of him, as well as what he will bring to our club on and off the pitch.”

On Saturday, he was proved right as Snyman’s contribution, throughout the season, helped the Tigers win the Premiership title.

It’s a recipe for success, which has worked for many rugby coaches in the past.


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