Beast Mtawarira has revealed the ‘surreal’ moment when he received a surprise phone call from President Cyril Ramaphosa on the eve of his 100th Test, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Bloemfontein.
Following the Boks’ hard-fought victory over England on Saturday, Mtawarira fronted up to the media with a beaming smile and wearing a golden cap to signify his milestone of reaching 100 Test caps.
The talismanic prop marked the occasion with a memorable all-round performance, while his barnstorming run to set up the Boks’ first try drew the biggest roar from the packed Free State Stadium crowd on the night.
All in all, it’s been an unforgettable week for Mtawarira, who has received plaudits and praise from all around the rugby world, and as it turns out, even from the president of South Africa.
‘Yes, I got the surprise phone call from President Cyril Ramaphosa after [Friday’s] captain’s run. It was overwhelming. When I answered my phone and asked who was speaking, I was like “wohhh”,’ he described as he drew loud laughter from the gathered media, as well as the Bok coach and captain alongside him.
‘I had to become formal pretty quickly,’ Mtawarira continued. ‘I just said, “Thank you so much Mr President” as he congratulated me on this occasion and becoming one of the few Springboks to reach 100 games. It was just really encouraging and overwhelming to hear him praise me, and to think that he actually knows about me. It was quite a short phone call, and I was just saying “yes sir”, “thank you sir” the whole time. It was pretty surreal.’
Just before kick-off on Saturday, Mtawarira walked out on to the field with his two young children, Wangu and Talumba, and he said it was a moment he would never forget.
‘My kids are my inspiration, so getting to walk out with them was extra special. The first thing my little boy asked was “what is this noise all about?” He was confused, but it was really special, and I was just motivated even more because I know they look up to me as their role model. I just wanted to make them proud, and the whole of South Africa.’
Having become just the sixth Springbok to reach 100 Test caps – and the first black African – Mtawarira said it had been a week of introspection and appreciation.
‘This whole week I’ve been reflecting on where my journey started. I’m just grateful to be here and to my teammates for making it really special. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. It’s been a really great night, and I’m just thankful, my family was here to witness it as well, which made it extra special.’
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix