Zimbabwean Springboks

Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira and John Smit

With Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira rapidly becoming a folk hero amongst Springbok rugby supporters, I thought I would take a look at which other players who are or were from Zimbabwe and have played for South Africa.

Zimbabweans with Springbok Caps

  • Adrian Garvey “Turbo Prop” – Played 28 tests for the Springboks during the 1990’s all at Tight-head Prop, scoring 4 tries. He also played for Zimbabwe and won his first cap in the 1991 World Cup. Born 25 June 1968 in Bulawayo, he went to Plumtree School. First Test: 9 Nov 1996 against Argentina at Ferrocarril-Oeste Stadium, Buenos Aires, last Test: 10 Oct 1999 against Spain at Murrayfield, Edinburgh.
  • Andy MacDonald (Andrew WilliamMacDonald) – Played 5 Tests for the Springboks during the 1960’s as a Tight-head Prop and played for Rhodesia. Went to Milton High School in Bulawayo. First Springbok Test: 19 Jun 1965 against Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney. Last Test: 18 Sep 1965 against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland
  • Ben-Piet van Zyl – Born in Gweru (Gwelo) on 1st Aug 1935, died 10 Mar 1973 (Age 37), played 1 Test for the Springboks as a right winger scoring 2 tries in the 24-8 win over Ireland on the 13 May 1961 in Newlands, Cape Town
  • Bobby SkinstadBobby Skinstad (Robert Brian  Skinstad) –  Born in Bulawayo, played for the Springboks, 42 times, scoring 55 points (11 tries). He also captained the Springboks and played as a flanker and Number eight. Born 3 July 1976 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia
  • Brian Mujati –  South African rugby union player who is still playing and now has over 12 Springbok caps. Born in Bulawayo, went to Peterhouse school in Marondera. His first test was on the  7th  Jun 2008 against Wales at Free State Stadium,in Bloemfontein he plays as a prop.
  • Chris Rogers – Played 4 tests as a hooker for the Springboks in the 1980’s. Born in Masvingo (Fort Victoria) on 10 Oct 1956, went to Milton High School, Bulawayo. First Test: 2 Jun 1984 against England at EPRFU Stadium (Boet Erasmus), Port Elizabeth. Last Test: 27 Oct 1984  against South America at Newlands, Cape Town
  • David Smith – Played 4 tests for the Springboks as a center all against the British Lions in 1980. Born on the 9th Nov 1957 in Bulawayo, he went to Hamilton High School in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)
  • Des van Jaarsveldt – He only played 1 test for the Springboks as a flanker, but was captain and he scored 1 try on the 30th Apr 1960  against Scotland at EPRFU Stadium (Boet Erasmus), Port Elizabeth. When he was made captain, the ‘Transvaler’, a newspaper, announced: “It is an evil day for South African rugby when the country has to seek its rugby captain from beyond its borders in a strange land and may be the reason why he never played again. “He also played for Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). Born on the 31st March 1929, he went to Plumtree School, just outside Bulawayo.
  • Gary TeichmannGary Teichmann –  Zimbabwean born South African rugby union player and was the captain of the South African national team, the Springboks, between 1995 and 1999. He played 42 Tests, scoring  6 tries at number eight (eighthman) . Born 9 January 1967 in Gwelo, Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe. First Test: 2 Sep 1995 against Wales at Ellispark, Johannesburg. Last Test: 10 Jul 1999 against New Zealand at Carisbrook, Dunedin
  • Ian Robertson – Played 5 Tests for the Springboks as centre or fullback in the 1970’s. Date of birth: 28 Apr 1950 in Harare (Salisbury), Zimbabwe, he went to Prince Edward School. First Test: 23 Nov 1974  against France at Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse. Last Test: 18 Sep 1976, played Full Back against New Zealand at Ellispark, Johannesburg
  • Ray MordtRay Mordt – Born on the 15 Feb 1957  in South Africa, but emigrated to Zimbabwe and played for Rhodesia as well as 18 tests on the wing for the Springboks, scoring 12 tries. First Test: 26 Apr 1980 against South America at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Last Test: 27 Oct 1984 against South America at Newlands, Cape Town He went to Churchill High School in Harare.
  • Ronnie Hill – Born on 20 Dec 1934in South Africa, but emigrated to Zimbabwe and went to Bulawayo Technical High School. Played for Rhodesia and Played 7 tests as a hooker for the Springboks in the 1960’s. First Test: 3 Dec 1960 against Wales at Millenium Stadium (Cardiff Arms Park), Cardiff. Last Test: 24 Aug 1963 against Australia at Ellispark, Johannesburg
  • Ryk van Schoor – Born in South Africa, but emigrated to Zimbabwe (the Rhodesia) and played for Rhodesian and 12 tests for South Africa as a centre scoring 2 tries. First Test 13 Aug 1949 against New Zealand at Ellispark, Johannesburg. Last Test: 26 Sep 1953 against Australia at Crusaders (St George’s Park), Port Elizabeth
  • Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira – Zimbabwean-born South African rugby union player with over 16 Springbok caps (still playing) and who also plays for the Sharks in the Super 14 competition. Tendai Mtawarira plays as a prop and is fondly known by friends and fans as “The Beast”. Born 1 August 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe, went to Peterhouse School in Marondera. First Test: 14 Jun 2008 against Wales at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

    Related article: Zimbabwean Sharks & Bok prop Beast in heart hospital
    Related article: Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira struggles with citizenship

  • Tonderai ChavhangaTonderai Chavhanga – Played 4 Tests for the Springboks on the right wing, scoring 6 tries. Born 24 December 1983 in Masvingo, Zimbabwe he went to Prince Edward School in Harare and can run the 100m in 10.27 seconds, a time he achieved when he was just 16. He is possibly is possibly the fastest rugby player in South African rugby history, according to Jake White, the former springbok coach. First Test: 11 Jun 2005 against Uruguay at Basil Kenyon Stadium, East London. Last Test: 14 Jun 2008 against Wales at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

Zimbabweans who have played rugby for other countries

  • Takudzwa Ngwenya – Plays for the USA (Eagles). He caused a sensation with the ‘Try of the Tournament’ with his run against South Africa’s Brian Habana in the 2007 Rugby World Cup.  He can run the 100m dash in 10.5, meaning that he is only slightly slower than Tonderai Chavhanga who played for the Springboks. Born July 22, 1985 and went to Vainona High School in Harare and now plays his club rugby for Biarritz in France.
  • David Pocock – Currently plays flank for the Australian Wallabies and currently has 6 test caps at the time of writing. Born on the 23rd April 1988 in Messina, South Africa, he emigrated to Zimbabwe. He made his Australian Debut as a substitute against the Barbarians on the 3rd December 2008.
  • Thom Evans – born 2 April, 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe is a Scottish international rugby union player. He currently also plays on the wing for Glasgow Warriors in the Magners League.
  • Max Evans (born 12 September 1983) is a Scottish rugby union footballer. He plays in the centre for Glasgow Warriors and the Scottish national team. He earned his first cap for Scotland against Canada in November 2008.

Other Notable Players

  • Karl Mudzamba – Played or still plays for Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, I think.
  • Kennedy Tsimba – First capped for Zimbabwe against Ivory Coast in 1998, has played provincial and Currie Cup rugby in South Africa for the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Free State where he broke the record for the most points scored in a season (228), a feat which earned him the Currie Cup Player of the Year award in 2002
  • Leon Greeff – Born March 9, 1975, in Kadoma  – Has played 6 tests for Zimbabwe as a lock/loose forward has made a name for himself playing in the Premiership side, Worcester Warriors, and can also add value to the team.
  • Tonderai Chiutare – (zim 21 2002, Allenton Rugby Club (New Zealand), mid-canterbury province 2003- current (New Zealand)
  • Victor Olonga – former Zimbabwe rugby captain played professional rugby in England for Penzance & Newlyn

Help Me Add to this List

I am sure I have missed out many players, so please leave a comment if you know of any others and I will add them.

References:
Springbok Rugby Hall of Fame

Zimbabwe Rugby Books


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  • Spook

    Saw a post about Ray Mordt being killed in a cross border raid. That’s incorrect, it was the Rhodesian fullback, Leroy Duberly from Bulawayo, if my memory serves me correctly.

    • Van

      Spook, You are quite it was Leroy Duberly in 1979 and not Ray Mordt.

  • Hilton Goodes

    Piet Greyling was schooled in Rhodesia – Jameson I think.

  • Andrew zvoma -Harlequins

  • Genie

    Hi, Ian Robinson now has a cafe/Restaurant inside the La Lucia Mall, next to the CNA in Durban KZN. He and his family run it and often have ex Rhodies and rugby players come have lunch there. He loves chatting to fans and other Rhodies. So do drop in and say Hi if you are in the area.

  • James Watson

    Scot Gray – went to Peterhouse (I think) – plays for Northampton and Scotland.
    Max and Tom Evans born in Zim, play for Scotland
    Nils Mordt (nephew of Ray) – born in Zim, plays for Northampton
    Wensley Mbanje – Zimbabwe and Falcons (SA)
    I have a feeling Joe Pieterson from WP was born in Zim – i heard a comentator say that..??
    Andy Marinos – born Zim – Played fror Wales and WP
    Paul Johnson – Zim and Scotland A
    Ian Noble – Zim and Glasgow Hawks
    There was a wing who playing for the Leopard/Pumas recently – can’t remember his name.
    Some research may be require to verify some of the above – good luck!

    • Van

      James, I am almost sure it was Ian Noble.

  • James Watson

    David Curtis – Born Harare ’65 – 13 caps for Ireland, including one against Zim in RWC 91.

  • James Watson

    Piet Benade – Zim, WP, Pumas(SA), and USA Limoges (French D2)

  • Tony Granger

    What a great list of players! Many of us are ‘golden oldie’ players – I am now 58 and still playing, having learned my rugby under Roy Gordon at Sinoia High School (he later became head of St Andrews at Bloemfontein) in the 60’s. Our Sinoia High team was unbeaten during that time, including games against bigger schools like Churchill and Peterhouse! I later played for Villagers in Cape Town, and over the last 12 years have played in various golden oldies world festivals around the world -its a fantastic game and with you for life, We always said you had to be 5 times as good as a South African to make the Springbok team, so very proud to have been a Rhodie.

  • Tug Morkel

    Harry Roberts did not play any tests for The Boks but went on tour as a ‘dirt-tracker’ if I’m not mistaken?

    He played out of Transvaal with Chris Rodgers.

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  • louis j fourie

    hi there,
    i live in new zealand and wonder if you could arrange contact with ian robinson ex springbok . i am a first cousin of his mom daphne and would dearly like to catch up on all the family news.
    thank you in aqnticipation
    louis fourie ex durban and margate.

    • Van

      Louis, please get in touch with me on + 27 83 689-0896

  • Philip Baird

    Other names that come to mind are Ian Bond who played Junior Boks (before my time) and what about Graham Hefer (Natal) and you cant forget Tony Watson who would have played boks if not for isolation

  • M Cumming

    Ian Robertson’s name was quoted as Robinson which is incorrect.
    Some more Zim / Rhod Springboks were ;
    Piet Greyling, Salty Du Rand, Popeye Strydom, Chris Koch & Paul Johnstone.
    Dick Coleshaw & Ian Bond played for the Junior Boks.

  • Terence Strong

    Terry Bowes, known as Sparrow, represented Rhodesia at Rugby, Cricket, Golf and Athletics. Can’t be too many who have achieved that.

  • Johann Boshoff

    A while ago i came across a team photo of the 1980 Springbok team. There where 2 Rhodesian players in the Squad. Ray Mordt and David Smith. Currently Ray Mordt is still active, but have anybody an idee what happened to David Smith?

    While looking at the photo I realise that there is another Rhodesian missing in the squad, and that is Ian Buchannan. He had to play in the shadows of Divan Serfontein.

    Johann Boshoff
    Pretoria
    South Africa

  • David Smith now lives in George South Africa and runs a very successful business.

    Andrew Tucker who played for Zimbabwe also played for the Natal Sharks in the late 80’s, he is now farming near Hermanus in the Cape.

    • Tammy Walls

      Yes Hello my name is Tammy Walls and he id my God father would you know how i can contact him please.

  • ruxton deary

    enjoyed reading of the old Rhodesians/Zimbawe.

  • Costa Loucas

    Tony Watson, Zimbabwe born. Record breaking winger for Natal.

  • rolando miles

    almost 100per sure Anthony papenffus plated manawatu in new zealand.

  • Tom Dawe

    Fairly sure David Pocock was born in Gweru not Messina. Has captained the Wallabies in at least one game.
    Think Tery Bowes played squash for Rhodesia as well

  • Tom Dawe

    Think Stuart Dunbar of Nortlea was one of the finest Rhodesian players and was rated by Danie Craven as such. Sadly injury prevented him playing for the Boks and he died prematurely.
    http://www.ru.ac.za/alumni/news/deceasedarchives/stuartjohndunbar/
    The Rhodesian backline with the likes of Stuart, Terry Bowes, Ian Robertson, Leroy Duberley, Eric Banfield, Ray Mordt and Danny Delport and others was a potent force

  • Q

    Tari Mutoti also a commercial pilot plays in australia darwin

  • Oscar Bekker

    Alan Mansfield also played national in Zimbabwe and for Natal, as well as league for Wigan.

  • Dcsengin

    There was also Chris Rogers who came down and played for Transaal as well as boks if i am not mistaken

    • Thanks Chris and yes, you are right:

      Chris Rogers – South Africa
      Full name: Christopher David Rogers
      Born October 10, 1956, Bulawayo, South Rhodesia
      Current age 55 years 235 days
      Major teams: South Africa
      Position Hooker
      Height 5 ft 11 in
      Weight 205 lb
      In total he played 4 Tests for South Africa
      Test debutSouth Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Jun 2, 1984
      Last TestSouth Africa v South America at Cape Town, Oct 27, 1984
      For Interest I have included an image of the official program for the SA vs Eng game, which was his test debut:

      • Van

        He also played 7 matches for Northern Transvaal.

  • Steve Fouche

    Doug holton played for Natal  and springboks in 61 /2 i think .

    • Van

      Steve, Correction Doug played for Eastern Province and his only test was 1960 v Scotland. However he did tour the UK and France in 1960-61. He also played a few matches for Rhodesia too.

  • rickinzim

    David Denton, born in Zimbabwe now playing eighthman for Scotland.

    • Thanks for this and you are right, I found this on wikipedia:

      David Denton was born in Zimbabwe, and qualifies for Scotland as his mother was born in Glasgow. He attended Kingswood College in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, before making several appearances for Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth. After playing for the Scottish National Academy, he was awarded a professional contract at Edinburgh for the 2010-2011 season. His performances in his debut season lead him to being selected for Scotland’s extended World Cup squad in the build up to the showpiece. As well as his defensive capabilities, Denton is known to be an effective ball carrier due to his strength and agility (particularly for a man of his size – 1.96m and 110 kg).

  • Tammy Walls

    Yes Hello i am looking for the where about’s of David Smith i am his god daughter i have been trying to contact him . i have recently found that he is living in George South Africa could some body tell me how i could hold of him would you happen to have an email address or something for him thanks again .

  • Anesu Muzenda

    Australian Prodigy James O’Connor was eligible to play for Zimbabwe, Wallabies and All Blacks….clearlt Zimbo genes in that bloodline…the side steps!!

  • Jan Ferreira

    Brendan Dawson
    Most capped Zimbabwe player ever with 100+ caps and Captained Zimbabwe

  • Jan Ferreira

    Mike Williams plays for Liecester Tigers

    • Jan Ferreira

      He is a Bulawayo boy