The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE born South African player Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has announced his retirement from international rugby, days after winning the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in Japan.
Mtawarira called time on his international career on Wednesday, having represented South Africa internationally 117 times since he made his Test debut against Wales Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on 14 June 2008. The 34-year old is the most capped most capped prop in South African history and the third most capped Springbok of all time behind lock Victor Matfield (127) and wing Bryan Habana (124). Mtawarira retires as the 17th most capped international forward of all time and the fifth most capped prop in the history of the game.
“I’ve been privileged to play this great game and achieve many career goals over the last 12 years of playing senior rugby. I’ve been blessed to have been part of teams that achieved so much success over the years, and I have many memories to cherish forever, but I can honestly say that winning the Rugby World Cup is the perfect ending and cherry on top,’’ Mtawarira said.
He expressed his gratitude to the chances given to him by coaches at the Springboks and the Sharks over the years.
“I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by many top coaches at the Springboks and the Sharks, and grateful to my numerous team mates in green and gold, and black and white, over the years.”
On Saturday, Mtawarira was part of the South Africa team which defeated England 32-12 to win the Rugby World Cup in Yokohama, the third time that the Springboks had won the Webb Ellis Cup, having previously done so in 1995 and 2007.
Even though he was on the field of play for just 44 minutes against England on Saturday, Mtawarira made his presence felt with some powerful scrummaging to force some penalties against the Red Roses and in the process played a huge part in South Africa’s triumph.
Educated at Churchill in Harare and Peterhouse in Marondera, Mtawarira was spotted by scouts after representing Zimbabwe at the Under-18 Craven Week. He made his Currie Cup debut for the Sharks in 2007, with his Springboks breakthrough coming the following year after strong performances in Super Rugby.
Mtawarira was initially an eighth man and had to shift from the back of the scrum to the front row when he went to the Sharks.