Following his international retirement, SA Rugby magazine reflects on the career and achievements of an absolute legend of the game, Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarria.
Mtawarira made his professional debut 13 years ago with the Sharks XV, before his great potential become apparent. After strong performances during his first two seasons at Vodacom Super Rugby level, the Beast – as he is fondly known – progressed to the national set-up, making his Springbok debut against Wales on 14 June 2008. It took a couple of games for Mtawarira to cement his spot in the starting lineup, but he as been a fixture in the loosehead position ever since.
Mtawarira earned 117 Test Caps over the course of 11 years in the green-and-gold and is the third most capped Springbok player of all time behind only Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana. As well as being the most capped Springbok prop, the Beast is also the fifth most capped prop in the history of the game.
At Super Rugby level, Mtawarira holds the record for the most caps by a South African, having played his 159th game earlier this year. Beast, who has been a regular in the Sharks No 1 jersey for over a decade, also started in the 2012 Super Rugby final defeat to the Chiefs. Domestically, Mtawarira enjoyed three victorious Currie Cup seasons during his career, winning the oldest rugby competition in the world in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
One of the highlight’s of the veteran prop’s career came in the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, when he absolutely decimated former England captain Phil Vickery at scrum time. It’s safe to say that several tighthead props around the world will be thankful for the news of Mtawarira’s retirement, after the Bok prop was still at his destructive best, even towards the twilight of his national career. Just ask England prop Dan Cole after the Boks’ dominant display during the World Cup final.
Mtawarira has also played uncapped matches for the Boks against the Barbarians in 2010 and 2016. Beast has featured for the famous invitational side on two previous occasions and was recently called up for the third time along with three other World Cup-winning teammates.
It is quite fitting that Mtawarira enjoyed success at both the beginning and the end of his illustrious career, winning both the Rugby Championship and World Cup in 2019, while his other success in the Bok jersey came when the Boks won the Tri Nations in 2009.
He is an icon and legend for both South African rugby and the global game.