Rugby Tendai Mtawarira: From South Africa debut to winning World Cup

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The racial diversity of the South Africa rugby squad that won the 2019 World Cup meant the latest triumph has done more than the previous two titles to unite the once bitterly-divided country, member of the winning squad Tendai Mtawarira has said.

Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira (affectionately known as Beast) survived a spirited effort earlier in his career to block him from playing for the Springboks because he was not a South African citizen.

The Springboks defeated England 32-12 in the final on November 2 in Japan and Mtawarira, 34, said being world champions under his adopted country’s first black rugby captain felt “pretty special”.

“I think winning the [2019] World Cup was really special, especially with Siya as a black captain,” Mtawarira told Al Jazeera.

“It brought the country together. I had no idea what it really meant to the country until we actually got to South Africa and did the trophy tours around the country. So many people came out to cheer the moment, that’s when I realised that this thing has just really impacted the entire country.

“I feel that the other World Cups would have been special, but I feel this one, particularly at this point in time, has been pretty special especially with how the team achieved it.”

Rugby ‘Really grateful’

Following a career that yielded 117 caps, the most capped prop in Springbok history retired from international rugby after helping the team win the record-equaling World Cup title.

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