WORLD Rugby Hall of famer Kennedy Tsimba could not hide his emotion after playing his first competitive rugby match in the country in 16 years as retired players from Zimbabwe and South Africa took part in an exhibition and sports tourism match at Victoria Falls Primary School on Saturday.
DANIEL NHAKANISO in
Tsimba admitted after the match that he was overcome with emotion after he first played for the Ian McIntosh-coached South Africa Rugby Legends before representing his compatriots towards the latter stages of the match.
His introduction for the Chris Lampard-coached side drew wild cheers from the sizable crowd that saw the match before immediately showcasing his silky skills to create Zimbabwe’s consolation try in the 7-57 defeat.
Tsimba, who was deployed at fullback after deciding to play for the Zimbabwe side despite having injured his shoulder, made a mazy run into the SA Legends half after collecting a high ball in his half before releasing Simba Gonese who scored Zimbabwe’s only try of the match.
“It was a very emotional moment for me because I haven’t played any rugby in Zimbabwe at all since I left Zimbabwe in 1998 after my last game for the Sables against Wales,” Tsimba told reporters after the match.
“I’ve tried many a time to come back and play, but for some reason it’s never worked out so it was good to get the opportunity at an occasion like this and in a place like Victoria Falls.”
Tsimba, who is widely regarded as a legend of the game both in Zimbabwe and South Africa became the first black to captain the Sables in 1998 having debuted for Zimbabwe in 1997 against Italy A.
Two years later after his move to South Africa, Tsimba who was nicknamed “The King of Bloemfontein”, was voted as the Vodacom player of the year as well as the Free State sportsman of the year.
In 2002, Tsimba was to walk to the podium again to receive the Currie Cup player of the year as well as the top points scorer award in the Currie Cup.
He still holds the record of being the fastest player to reach 1 000 points in first-class rugby and in 2008, he was again voted as the Currie Cup player of the year.
The talented fly-half was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame together with his brother Richard on 25 October 2012 becoming the first black players to receive the honour.
“It was the greatest honour for me. The greatest honour in rugby besides winning a World Cup is to be inducted in the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
As you know South Africa is one of the strongest nations in world rugby, but they’ve only four players in the World Rugby (IRB) Hall of Fame, so for me and Richard to be the first blacks to be inducted in a sport that’s not seen as a black sport its one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in rugby.”