‘It’s the Beast here, just to say Thank You’
By Robson Sharuko
World Cup hero Tendai “Beast’’ Mtawarira has a message for all the boys in this country who hope to one day touch the heights he has scaled — just chase your dreams with everything that you have, and it’s possible to conquer Mount Everest. He has also been showering Peterhouse with praises, describing it as an amazing institution, and revealing he would love to get his son to enrol at the prestigious Marondera school.
The 34-year-old Zimbabwe-born Springboks star helped South Africa power to their third Rugby World Cup title with a dominant 32-12 destruction of England in the final in Yokohama, Japan, on Sunday.
But, for all the amazing strength he displayed in that final, Mtawarira revealed he developed some goosebumps after viewing a video produced by a group of Peterhouse boys encouraging him to go for the immortality that comes with winning rugby’s biggest prize.
Ahead of that final, where the veteran prop produced a masterclass in 44 minutes of action, some boys at his old school posted a video online, reminding the Beast of the pride they generate from associating with him.
“On behalf of Peterhouse, I would like to tell Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira how proud we are for attending the same school as he did,” the leader of the group, with scores of his schoolmates in the background, said in the video.
“It is a huge honour for me to wish the Springboks the greatest of success on Saturday. You have inspired us to believe that if you want to get to the top, we can.
“I hope you still remember the war cry.”
A day after being crowned World Champion, the Beast responded to that message by sending them a video in which he praised his old school and encouraged the boys to chase their dreams with everything they have got.
The message also applies to every Zimbabwean schoolboy who, inspired by watching Mtawarira transform himself into a World Champion, will also be dreaming of following a similar path.
“It’s the Beast here just sending a special message to say thank you,’’ Mtawarira says in the video. “I watched that video that you guys made for me.
“I had goosebumps watching you guys singing the school war cry.
“It took me way back in time when I was there at school (Peterhouse) and I had a dream to become a professional rugby player.
“Today, now I sit (and there’s this) gold medal and I realised my ultimate dream. I’m so proud, it’s just a testimony of my hard work and just staying focused and I just want to encourage all you boys to dream big.
“Chase your dreams with everything you got and you’ll achieve them as long as you are determined.’’
Mtawarira first went to Churchill Boys High School before landing at Peterhouse on a rugby scholarship.
The Springboks star showed that the fame, generated by winning the World Cup, and the fortune he has earned during an illustrious record-breaking career as a rugby professional, have not divorced him from his roots.
He still feels a special attachment to Peterhouse and everything the school did in preparing him for the journey to the Shark Tank in South Africa, where his professional career started.
“Peterhouse is a special place,’’ said the Beast. “I miss it and I will definitely come back and visit and I will certainly love my son to come and attend Peterhouse.
“I can tell you, for me, it was also a dream come true to attend such an amazing school with such a great tradition. I just wanna wish you guys well and see you soon.’’
The Beast’s presence in the Boks squad, in what some felt would be his last shot at trying to become a World Cup winner, saw a lot of his countrymen and women throwing their support behind the South African side in their final showdown against England.
And, when they triumphed, a wave of euphoria swept through Zimbabwe with many turning to Twitter and Facebook to shower him with praises and tell him how proud they were with his achievements.
What makes his achievements even more spectacular are the hurdles he had to clear to finally become World Champion, the never-say-die attitude which many Zimbabweans pride themselves in having as part of their DNA.
Nine years ago, he was almost kicked out of the Boks squad when Buthana Komphela, an ANC Member of South Africa’s National Assembly and chairman of the sports committee, claimed the South African Rugby Union were fielding Mtawarira illegally because he wasn’t a South African.
He was left out of the three-Test series against France while there was even talk he would be deported back to Harare.
“It was really hurtful. I remember being emotional in front of my wife (Kuziva), my fiancée at that time, when the Springboks squad was announced and I wasn’t in it,’’ he told The Irish Times.
“I remember getting the call from Oregan Hoskins (then SARU president) to say they can’t pick me for the side as they need to sort out my citizenship.
“I had to watch France play South Africa. I couldn’t even sit down because I wanted to be there with the guys.”
Even when his South African passport arrived, there was still a lot to be done.
“Oregan Hoskins assured me it was going to be sorted out. Usually citizenship in South Africa takes 10 years so they sped up the whole process so I could play.
“I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
Then, in 2012, a heart problem was detected and he was forced to spend the night in St Vincent’s Hospital.
“It started in 2010 and it occurred once or twice and I carried on going. The specialist in Durban, called Dirk Pretorius, a good guy who really helped me a lot, he told me it wouldn’t affect my rugby, but I had to get it sorted out,’’ he said.
“It wasn’t a big operation, a small op in Cape Town where they put a catheter through your groin all the way to your heart and burn out the electrolytes that cause it to go out of sync sometimes.
“Quite a few things can trigger that — caffeine, sometimes stress, but it is something that can be sorted out, so I shouldn’t stress about it.” The Herald