Tendai Mtawarira

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Tendai Mtawarira
Tendai Mtawarira.jpg
Full nameTendai Mtawarira
Date of birth (1985-08-01) 1 August 1985 (age 35)
Place of birthHarare, Zimbabwe
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight120 kg (260 lb; 18 st 13 lb)
SchoolPeterhouse Boys' School
Occupation(s)Rugby union player
Rugby union career
Position(s) Loosehead Prop
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Sharks Invitational XV
Old Glory DC
1 (5)
Correct as of 7 July 2019
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Sharks XV
Natal Sharks
Correct as of 7 July 2019
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
2007-2019 Sharks 159 (25)
Correct as of 7 July 2019
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
South Africa (tests) [a]
South Africa (tour) [a]
Springboks [a]
Springbok XV [a]
Correct as of 3 November 2019

Tendai Mtawarira (born 1 August 1985) is a Zimbabwean-born South African professional rugby union player who plays for Old Glory DC in Major League Rugby and previously for the South Africa national team and the Sharks in Super Rugby. He was born in Zimbabwe and qualified for South Africa on residency grounds, before later acquiring South African citizenship. Mtawarira, a prop, is known by the nickname The Beast.

Mtawarira made his debut for South Africa against Wales on 14 June 2008. With 117 caps, he is the most capped prop in South African history and the third most capped Springbok of all time behind Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana.[6]

With his 117 caps, Mtawarira is the 17th most capped international forward of all time and the 5th most capped prop of all time.[7] He is also a 2019 Rugby World Cup Winner.

Early life[edit]

Mtawarira was born on 1 August 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He attended Churchill School in Harare for five years before being given a full scholarship to Peterhouse Boys' School, an independent school in Mashonaland East. At the age of 15, while at Churchill, he was spotted by Zimbabwean coach Joey Muwadzuri who invited him to join the Under 19 side at the National Schools Festival. Later that year Muwadzuri invited him to be part of Cats and Dogs Rugby Academy Team that won the National Seniors 7's tournament. He played with Dan Hondo, Pete Benade, Tonderai "Kawaza" Chavhanga, among others.

Playing career[edit]

After a strong 2008 Super 14 season with the Sharks it was apparent that he had great potential and his speed would be beneficial with the new rules (ELV's).

He was then selected in the Springbok squad and made his debut against Wales on 14 June 2008. At first received limited game time. Later he had the opportunity to be a reserve during the test against the Wallabies in Perth. Once he came on, his impact was significant; he went on to be a part of the starting lineup for all the subsequent Tri-nations tests.

A highlight of Mtawarira's career to date came in the first test of the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2009. Scrumming against Phil Vickery, Mtawarira dominated his more experienced opponent, leading to Vickery being substituted after 45 minutes, and a man-of-the-match award for Mtawarira.[8] However, he conceded several penalties in the second test when playing opposite Welsh prop Adam Jones. Similarly, in the third test, Mtawarira was largely ineffectual in the scrum, with the returning Vickery and replacement John Hayes subduing him up front.

On 16 June 2018, Mtawarira played his 100th test match against England. He was dropped to the bench for South Africa's loss to Australia on 8 September 2018, and sustained a neck injury against New Zealand on 6 October 2018, meaning he missed the Springboks' 2018 tour to Europe.

Mtawarira was named in South Africa's squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[9] South Africa went on to win the tournament, defeating England in the final.[10] Mtawarira's scrummaging in the final was described as destructive by the UK's leading rugby writer, and South Africa won many scrum penalties.[11]

As well as his 117 Test matches, Mtawarira has played uncapped games for the Springboks against the Barbarians in 2010 and 2016, and against World XVs in 2014 and 2015. He has also played twice for the Barbarians.

Mtawarira also holds the record for the most Super Rugby caps by a South African with 160 caps.

Test Match Record[edit]

As of 3 November 2019
Against P W D L Tri Pts %Won
 Argentina 17 13 1 3 0 0 79.41
 Australia 21 10 2 9 0 0 52.38
 British and Irish Lions 3 2 0 1 0 0 66.67
 England 11 8 1 2 0 0 77.27
 Fiji 1 1 0 0 1 5 100
 France 6 5 0 1 0 0 83.33
 Ireland 7 3 0 4 0 0 42.86
 Italy 6 5 0 1 1 5 83.33
 Japan 3 2 0 1 0 0 66.67
 Namibia 2 2 0 0 0 0 100
 New Zealand 20 6 1 13 0 0 32.5
 Samoa 3 3 0 0 0 0 100
 Scotland 5 4 0 1 0 0 80
 United States 1 1 0 0 0 0 100
 Wales 11 9 0 2 0 0 81.82
Total 117 74 5 38 2 10 65.38

Pld = Games Played, W = Games Won, D = Games Drawn, L = Games Lost, Tri = Tries Scored, Pts = Points Scored

Test tries[edit]

Tries Opposition Location Venue Competition Date Result
1  Italy Cape Town, South Africa Newlands Test match 21 June 2008 Won 26–0
1  Fiji Wellington, New Zealand Westpac Stadium 2011 Rugby World Cup 17 September 2011 Won 49–3

Citizenship controversy[edit]

Although Mtawarira was fully eligible to play for South Africa under IRB rules, his Zimbabwean nationality was a sticking point in 2009 and 2010. South Africa has a policy of only allowing its nationals to represent the country, although it has been somewhat flexible; the South African Rugby Union (SARU) officially cleared him to play with the Boks in the November 2009 Tests, after receiving clearance from the country's sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile.[12]

More recently, his citizenship was a minor political issue in the country. In January 2010, Buthana Komphela, an ANC member of the National Assembly and chair of its sports committee, publicly threatened to charge the SARU with "illegally" fielding Mtawarira and have him deported to Zimbabwe.[13] Shortly after the threat, Mtawarira told the Sunday Independent,

I am a South African at heart. I love this country. It has become my home. It is everything to me. Wearing the green and gold of the Springboks is a huge honour for me. That jersey is part of me. The green and gold flows in my blood. I feel just as much pride as any other guy in the team.[14]

Later in the year, the South African government reaffirmed its policy that only South African nationals would be allowed to represent the country in international competition, which made Mtawarira unavailable for selection to the Springboks in the June Tests; by that time, his application for South African citizenship had been tied up in red tape. On 25 June 2010, the SARU announced that Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had granted Mtawarira's request for South African citizenship. The immediate effect was to make him eligible for selection in the 2010 Tri Nations.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d In addition to playing in test matches, Mtawarira featured in a number of non-test matches for South Africa.[1] In December 2010, he played in a match against the Barbarians in London. In 2014[2] and 2015,[3] he played in non-test international matches against a World XV in Cape Town. These matches have an equivalent status to international tour matches, but were played on home soil.[1] He also played for a Springbok XV that played against the Barbarians in London in November 2016. The South African Rugby Union did not award this match tour match status and no caps were awarded to players that appeared in this match.[4]


  1. ^ a b South African Rugby Annual 2018. South African Rugby Union. 2018. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-620-78461-0.
  2. ^ South African Rugby Annual 2015. South African Rugby Union. 2015. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-620-62087-1.
  3. ^ South African Rugby Annual 2016. South African Rugby Union. 2016. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-0-620-69290-8.
  4. ^ South African Rugby Annual 2017. South African Rugby Union. 2017. pp. 172–173. ISBN 978-0-620-74427-0.
  5. ^ https://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/RugbyWorldCup2019/legendary-springbok-beast-retires-at-the-top-20191106
  6. ^ "List of South Africa national rugby union players", Wikipedia, 20 September 2019, retrieved 23 September 2019
  7. ^ "List of rugby union test caps leaders", Wikipedia, 22 October 2019, retrieved 22 October 2019
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "South Africa World Cup squad: Siya Kolisi wins fitness battle, Eben Etzebeth backed, Aphiwe Dyantyi dropped". Independent. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  10. ^ "England 12-32 South Africa: Springboks win World Cup for record-equalling third time". BBC. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  11. ^ Owen Slot, Times, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/elliot-daly-3-cheslin-kolbe-9-how-england-and-south-africa-rated-6gxjzm7g8
  12. ^ Rees, Paul (12 January 2010). "Senior South African politician wants Tendai Mtawarira to be deported". Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  13. ^ Gerretsen, Bronwyn (12 January 2010). "Threat to deport 'the Beast'". South Africa: Independent. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  14. ^ Greenaway, Mike (17 January 2010). "Green and gold flows in Beast's blood". South Africa: Independent. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Tendai Mtawarira Available for Springbok Selection" (Press release). South African Rugby Union. 25 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.

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