Vodacom Bulls director of rugby Jake White instantly regretted signing Madosh Tambwe. Now he’s hopeful the wing will cancel his flight to France.
“In his first week training with us, Madosh was trying to show the team every trick he knows,” White told the URC. “He was running sideways across the field, and then in the huddle he was running the show, telling everyone what to do, how to fold and where to go.
“I was thinking, ‘what the hell have you bought here?’ and then I realised why the Sharks probably let him go…”
Born in Kinshasa and schooled at Parktown Boys’ High School in Johannesburg, Tambwe was 19 years old when he made his Super Rugby debut for the Emirates Lions in 2017.
He scored 30 tries in 42 first-class appearances over the course of three seasons, including four against the DHL Stormers in 2018, before leaving for the Cell C Sharks in 2020. But his stay in Durban failed to produce fireworks and in 2021 he again packed his bags, this time for Loftus Versfeld.
“I don’t think Madosh was getting enough game time at the Sharks because they didn’t think he was going to play a big part in their campaign, and we snatched him up,” said White.
“As Doc Craven used to say, ‘you have to have a point of difference’ and Madosh has got that in speed.”
An Olympic 100m sprinter covers an average of 10.4 metres per second and the Bulls have recorded Tambwe at 10.3mps. However, there’s more to integrating into a rugby team than pure athleticism and this isn’t something that the wing seemed to fully appreciate on his arrival in Pretoria.
“In training, he’d run with the ball in one hand, and he would step inside off the wing until eventually he was in the middle of the field…
“At the time we had Stravino Jacobs and Kurt-Lee Arendse on the wings and David Kriel at fullback. Looking back, I think that Madosh was just trying to show everyone what he can do – he went over the top to catch everyone’s eye. It was working, but not necessarily the way he wanted it to …
“We had to call him in and tell him he’s the new kid in the town and, to be fair to him, he was just 23 years old.”
Tambwe turned 25 on 12 May this year and in his next match, the Bulls finisher scored the opening try in a 38-31 victory against Ospreys in Wales.
Where Tambwe had fired in spurts during stints with the Lions and Sharks, he has now found a stability under White that has produced consistency in his performances.
Tambwe started 18 times for the Bulls in the league, carrying the ball 116 times and beating 42 defenders to score eight tries.
“And I think he’s had about eight tries disallowed!” said White. “It’s become an inside joke in the team that we’ve told the goal-kickers to hurry after every time Madosh scores because I can’t remember how many tries he’s had called back for offsides, or a knock-on at the previous ruck.”
Tambwe’s form has caught the attention of European clubs and he’s been linked with a move to Top 14 contenders Bordeaux.
“I think the consistency Madosh has got now comes from the team culture and ethos. We’re not about superstars and that’s probably why he was frowned upon here at first when he stuck out for the wrong reasons.
“Madosh and [assistant coach] Chris Rossouw get on very well and his high-ball catching, kick-chase and kicking out of hand have improved,” said White issuing a stern warning to Leinster ahead of Friday’s semi-final. “The more he plays, the better he gets.”
What is your prediction?
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 10, 2022