• Mtawarira: I’m sorry Phil, but I had no choice

    Former Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira says it was a ‘huge honour’ to be a part of the team’s series win over the British & Irish Lions in 2009.

    The opening match of the crucial Test series against the Lions in 2009 also turned out to be a contest that unequivocally announced Mtawarira’s arrival on the Test scene.

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    A 23-year-old Mtawarira was playing in just his 11th Test match for the Springboks, but put in a magnificent performance in the scrums against his opposite number and England veteran Phil Vickery, who popped like a champagne cork almost every time he engaged with Mtawarira.

    In an article in issue 44 of Springbok magazine which looked back at the 2009 series – the last time the Lions toured South Africa – Mtawarira apologised to Vickery, saying that he was eager to make his mark on the biggest stage of world rugby.

    ‘Playing against the Lions is probably the next best thing to playing in a World Cup,’ Mtawarira said. ‘It’s such a big occasion and such a huge honour to be a part of.

    ‘At the time when I got picked, I was really excited to contribute to the success of the team.

    ‘I was quite young, I was 22 and I wanted to make my mark in world rugby. I’m sorry for Phil Vickery … but I had no choice.’

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    Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images