Old Glory DC Signs Tendai Mtawarira

Old Glory DC signed Tendai “the Beast” Mtawarira to play for the 2020 Major League Rugby season. The 34-year-old loosehead prop is 6’0″ and 258 lbs.

Tendai was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and attended Churchill Scool in Harare for five years before being offered a scholarship to attend Peterhouse Boys’ School in Mashonaland East in Zimbabwe. In 2000, while at Churchill School, he played for the Zimbabwe U19s at the National Schools Festival and also for the winning Cats and Dogs Rugby Academy Team at the National Seniors 7s Tournament.

Tendai played with the Sharks XV from 2006-2012, as well as the Sharks Currie Cup side from 2006-2013. From 2007-2019 he played 160 times for the Sharks Super Rugby team, a record for a South African. He won three Currie Cups.

Tendai, whose nickname is ‘the Beast’ earned 117 caps for the Springboks from 2008 to 2019. He made his debut against Wales on 14 June 2008 and his last test was in winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup on 2 November 2019 against England.

While playing for South Africa, Tendai won the Rugby Championship, the Tri-Nations, as well as the Rugby World Cup.  He also played twice for the Barbarians in November 2019 against Fiji at Twickenham and against Brazil.

Tendai is the 14th most capped international forward of all-time and the 5th most capped prop. He is the 3rd most capped Springbok with 117 caps behind Victor Matfield with 127 and Bryan Habana with 124.

Old Glory DC Comments

“The Beast” will join an already talented Old Glory side, which hopes to contend for the MLR championship in its inaugural season of 2020. Although “the Beast’s” performance on the field speaks for itself, the Old Glory organization placed equal value on Mtawarira’s character in pursuing his recruitment.

Said Old Glory Head Coach Andrew Douglas, “It’s exciting to have one of the world’s best players here at Old Glory. As a coach, not only am I excited about what Tendai brings to the pitch, but also what he brings to our environment. He is an excellent professional and the values and character he brings will be important in raising the bar for the whole squad. To have a guy who has played 117 test matches yet is still so hardworking and humble can only be beneficial for us. The signing takes the league to another level.”

“I really want to thank the whole Old Glory organization for making this happen,” said Mtawarira. “I can’t wait to make an impact on and off the field and help to contribute to making Old Glory the best team in this league.”

Gary Gold, head coach of the US national men’s’ rugby team, the Eagles, and a native of South Africa said, “The news today that Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawariri has signed to play his rugby at Old Glory in Washington is an incredibly strong message that the MLR competition is now a league that top players are starting to take seriously. To have a player of Tendai’s ability, and in his current form, as we saw in the recent RWC final, is a testament to the work that has been put in over recent years to form a sustainable competitive competition in the USA, that can attract players of the quality of Tendai. I know Beastie well and I know what incredible value he will bring to the Old Glory team and the MLR.”

In fact, Old Glory’s signing of “the Beast” marks a recurrence of the unexpected connections between the MLR expansion team and South Africa. Old Glory’s founding owners, Chris Dunlavey and Paul Sheehy, met for the first time at the South African Embassy in DC, where they were each attending the announcement of the 2018 Wales vs. South Africa international test match at RFK Stadium. They first worked together on the local host committee for that match, and the partnership that eventually became Old Glory was born. Strong connections were subsequently built between Old Glory’s program and Scotland with the action by the Scottish Rugby Union to invest as a partner in the ownership group, resulting in cross-Atlantic operational, coaching, and player development interactions. Later, other threads came together to lead “the Beast” to DC.

“Our organization, particularly our Pathway Director Tim Brown, has been in quiet discussions on this for some time with Kisset Chiregrande of Kyros Sports, a close friend of the Beast since childhood,” explained Dunlavey. “By the time the discussions became serious, we were supported by business leaders from the South African ex-pat community in greater DC as well as our other phenomenal sponsors and partners.”

Added Old Glory owner Paul Sheehy, “Tendai recently won the Rugby World Cup and has represented South Africa 117 times. To have a player of his stature decide to play for Old Glory in the Nation’s Capital is a validation of all we have been working on. We are honored to have him join our team. This is a game-changer for Major League Rugby.”

Washington Post Comments

Sam Fortier indicated that Tendai signed a one-year contract with Old Glory worth a league-maximum $45,000.

Fortier further noted that Mtawaria is a role model for blacks in post-apartheid South Africa, and says he wants to play a similar role as an ambassador for the sport in the Washington area.

“I want to go to a place where I can make a meaningful impact and, from what I heard, there’s a lot of African American kids in D.C.,” Mtawarira said in an interview. “I want to come out and be a role model and teach them a lot about my game.”

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant