Beast: It was a dark time for Bok rugby

Former Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira has explained his revelation in the 2019 World Cup documentary teasers that he considered retirement in 2017. DYLAN JACK reports.

The first episode of the five-part documentary based on the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup victory, ‘Chasing the Sun’, will be aired on DStv this Sunday, 4 October. The final episode of the series will premier on 1 November, exactly one year since the final in Yokohama.

A SuperSport camera crew travelled with the Boks for the duration of 2019, getting unprecedented behind-the-scenes access throughout the lead-up to and during the World Cup in Japan.

In a clip from the documentary trailer, Mtawarira revealed that he considered retiring from the game when the Springboks dropped to eighth in the world rankings after a disastrous 2017 season.

During the online media launch of the documentary on Wednesday, the Springboks’ most-capped prop added depth to his revelation.

‘It was a dark time for Springbok rugby,’ Mtawarira said. ‘I, myself, being a senior player, took it really personally. I took it personally that we were not producing on the field and that we were falling really short of that standard.

‘It was very personal for me. I had sleepless nights. During those two years, it was tough to walk around the streets, to meet people on the streets, because you felt that you were disappointing everybody.

‘At that time I was contemplating retiring. I thought about it, that probably this was it. At the end of 2017, I really wanted to call it. At the time, towards the end of 2017, I remember having a meeting with [former Bok coach] Allister Coetzee at one of the Test matches. I just felt that things needed to change. There was a lot of problems that we were having in camp. I just felt like, I did not stand for what was going on.

‘Fortunately, Rassie came and took charge at the beginning of 2018 and that was probably the moment where I sat down and decided that I was going to give it my last shot. Give everything that I have to get to that World Cup squad. For me that was probably the last thing that I needed to do, to win a World Cup. So, Rassie coming in gave me that confidence to make that decision.’

Having been able to watch the first episode prior to its premiere this Sunday, Mtawarira explained his feelings of being able to relive the whole experience.

‘I have seen the first episode and I can tell you that I had goosebumps after reliving the whole journey. It is quite incredible,’ he said. ‘It starts right at the beginning with everything, when things were not so great for the Springboks and the journey we took to get back to where we are now. We took the onus on us and created friendships, relationships, created our brotherhood among us that will last forever.

‘We did this thing together and even though me may not see each other that often, when we do, we will have that look in our eye remembering the time that we won the World Cup.  It is truly special.’

Photo: Getty Images

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