Windhoek - Zimbabwe Rugby’s high point may have been the 1987 and 1991 appearances at the Rugby World Cup, but in the decades since players from the country or with ties to it have been setting the global stage alight.
While the national team itself has not been seen at the World Cup in nearly 30 years, players from Zimbabwe figure prominently every time – in the colours of Australia, England, Japan, Scotland, South Africa and the United States.
The Southern African country has launched its latest bid to return to world stage in 2023 with coach Brendan Dawson leading the charge.
Dawson would, perhaps, wish he had at his disposal the embarrassment of riches that Zimbabwe has bled over the years.
Here are some of them:
David Pocock rose to captain Australia after being born in Gweru, Zimbabwe. The flanker moved to Australia at the turn of the millennium, settling in Brisbane and making his Wallabies debut against the All Blacks in Hong Kong in 2008.
As a professional rugby player Pocock had his breakthrough year in 2009 when he featured in 13 of the 14 Tests played by Australia, including a man of the match effort in the drawn game against Ireland at Croke Park. That same year brought a maiden Test try during the 33-12 win over Wales at Cardiff.
Tendai “The Beast” Mutawarira attended Churchill Boys High School in Harare, where he was spotted by legendary Zimbabwean coach Joey Muwadzuri and drafted into the Under-19 side at the National Schools Festival. He subsequently got a scholarship to another Zimbabwe school, Peterhouse, before moving to South Africa.
Up until June 2010, The Beast was a Zimbabwean citizen. Then he qualified for South African citizenship and the rest is history – a history that includes the 2019 Rugby World Cup trophy.
Takudzwa “Zee” Ngwenya is a professional Rugby Union player who plays for the United States national rugby union team and French team CA Brive. In 2010 he was touted as one of the fastest wingers in the world, after clocking 10,5s in the 100m. Zee first played rugby in his homeland of Zimbabwe, before moving to the US in the early 200s where he turned out for Plano Rugby Club in Texas, and then the Dallas Athletic Rugby Club.
David Denton was born on February 5, 1990 in the Zimbabwean town of Marondera, which is home to the school boys rugby powerhouse of Peterhouse. While his father was Zimbabwean, his Scottish mother meant Denton was eligible to turn out for Scotland, which he duly did. Denton retired in September 2019 for medical reasons.
Don Armand is a former Stormers player who now turns out for England in the Six Nations. In the Premiership, he Don dons the colours of Exeter Chiefs in the lock and back row positions.
Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the powerful prop started off his career with the Lions in the Super 14 and then joined the Stormers in 2008 season before moving to the Saints. Brian Mujati also played for Sale Ospreys. Mujati made 12 appearances for the Springboks in the 2008 season prior to leaving for Northampton in 2009.
Thon Evans was born in Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare but was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire. He earned his first cap for Scotland against Argentina. Unfortunately, Evans’ promising rugby career ended at age 24 on his tenth appearance for Scotland when he suffered a serious neck injury.
Kotaro Munyaradzi-Matsuhima has a Zimbabwean father and Japanese mother. He has scored many tries for Japan, including highly impactful ones at the Rugby World Cup.