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Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira’s announcement that he is quitting international rugby comes at the perfect time – in the twilight of his career after winning a World Cup winner’s medal. The decision will be greeted with a degree of sadness among his legions of fans, as he was one of the most popular players in the game. No matter if he played on home soil or at foreign venues, when he got the ball, the crowd would bay “Beeeeeast!” The big man isn’t sure where the childhood nickname comes from, speculating it might have come The Beast in X-Men. Beast rings the curtain down on a stellar career during which he set many records for a prop forward. His 117 Tests would have been more had it not been for the churlishness of a Sports Minister who, in 2010, objected to Beast’s selection for the Springbok team because he was a Zimbabwean and not a South African citizen. By then, he had already played 22 Tests when his international career was put on hold for just over a year while he dealt with the bureaucracy of Home Affairs. In that time, he missed out on selection for 10 Test matches. Beast’s legendary determination resulted in him securing his citizenship and getting his rugby career on track for another nine years. Even as a schoolboy he was extremely strong-willed. He attended a well-known Zimbabwean rugby school, Churchill. But he had set his sights on another top school Peterhouse. The school was too expensive for his parents and the school offered no rugby scholarships. So Beast decided to plead his case with the Rector of Peterhouse face-to-face. Without telling his parents or teachers, and without having an appointment with the Rector, he caught a bus to Peterhouse and presented himself at the Rector’s office door. The tactic worked and Beast was given the financial support to go to his dream school. – David O’Sullivan
Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok legend Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira has announced his retirement from international rugby.
The 34-year-old veteran of 117 Tests confirmed his decision after a monumental performance in his final match, Saturday’s emphatic, 32-12, victory over England in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan.
In a trademark scrumming performance from the 115kg front ranker, the Springbok pack forced a succession of penalties from their opponents, many of them conceded by Mtawarira’s direct opponent. It crowned a storied career for the Springboks’ and Cell C Sharks’ ‘gentle giant’.
Mtawarira made his senior provincial debut for the Cell C Sharks in 2006 and won his first Springbok cap in 2008, setting records on the way.
‘Beast’ became the third most-capped Springbok (behind Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana), the most capped prop, made the most appearances for a South African Vodacom Super Rugby team (159) and won the Rugby World Cup (2019), Tri-Nations (2009), Castle Lager Rugby Championship (2019), a series against the British & Irish Lions (2009) and the Currie Cup (2008, 2010 and 2013).
Tendai Mtawarira has retired from test rugby.
When you retire with a nickname, that the ENTIRE rugby world is aware of.
You've done plenty right on the field and off.
— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) November 6, 2019
“I’ve been privileged to play this great game and achieve many career goals over the last 12 years of playing senior rugby,” said Mtawarira.
“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.
“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.
“But most of all, to my wife Kuziva, and our two beautiful children, Talumba and Wangu, for sacrificing so much to allow me to chase my dreams. I really appreciate it immensely.
“I would also like to thank my parents, other family and friends for their support over the years – I could not have done this without you.”
Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, paid tribute to Mtawarira, who made his Springbok debut in the second Test against Wales in Pretoria in 2008, and played his last match in green and gold in Yokohama last Saturday.
“’Beast is someone who never complained, always put in the hard work and simply got on with his job in his typically unassuming way,” said Mr Alexander.
“When he first got an opportunity at the Sharks, he rode a bicycle to training, which perfectly sums up not only his humbleness, but his desire to make it to the top. He worked very hard to achieve what he has and we’re all very proud of him.
“’Beast’, thank you for what you’ve done for South African rugby, to show that Springboks can indeed be gentle giants, and for never putting your own interests above that of the team. We salute you and will miss you in green and gold.”
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