Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira rolled back the years and put in a vintage performance in the World Cup final against England.
It will go down in history as one of the best scrum performances in the history of the tournament’s showpiece match. He absolutely annihilated England tighthead Dan Coles with his powerful shoves, that led to numerous penalties, and which allowed the Boks to create scoreboard pressure and laid the platform for a famous win.
But there are many other fantastic memories during his illustrious 13-year career, which included a record 117 Test caps for the Boks. JOHN GOLIATH picks his favourite moments from the Beast’s stellar career.
Beast tames the Lions’ ‘Raging Bull’ in 2009
A 22-year-old Mtawarira was only in his second year of international rugby when he came up against British and Irish Lions Lions prop Phil Vickery, who was 11 years his senior and, up until the first Test of that much-anticipated series, was having an ‘Indian Summer’ according to some members of the traveling British press. However, Beast folded Vickery in half on that lovely June afternoon at Kings Park in Durban. The Lions had to replace Vickery early in the second half. Mtawarira came off later to a standing ovation from his home crowd. It was the sort of performance that put him on the international map. From then on, it was clear that he was the real deal.
Beast saves Anton Bresler from serious injury … twice!
The Beast has amassed 155 Super Rugby caps for the Sharks over the last 13 years and has many fantastic memories in the black jersey. He became a bit of a YouTube sensation in 2012 when he showed his awesome power when preventing a nasty accident during a match against the Stormers. The Beast assisted lock Anton Bresler from a kick-off, but the second-row forward jumped too high and was falling backwards, with nothing in between his neck and the turf. However, Mtawarira held him in the air, with his arms outstretched until Bresler was stable and able to come back down safely. The loosehead prop would repeat this feat a week later, when Bresler again found himself in a similar situation.
Beast almost steamrolls hapless Namibian at 2011 World Cup
Mtawarira started off his rugby career as a loose forward. So, despite his size, he has always had a little bit of gas to call on when he needs to motor in open play. Mtawarira still had a lot of juice left in his legs during the 2011 World Cup. In the pool match against Namibia, Beast found himself on the right wing. He got the ball in space and proceeded to ‘fly’ down the right touchline. Suddenly there was only Namibian fullback Chrysander Botha between the prop and what would be another 50-metre dash to the tryline. The Bok No 1 had already built up a good head of steam, having already travelled 30 metres before meeting Botha just over the halfway line. It was clear that Mtawarira wasn’t going to slow down or haul out an unlikely side step. The rugby world then braced themselves as Botha mustered up the courage to take on the Beast head-on. Luckily for Botha he managed to live to tell the tail
Beats caps off 100th Test cap with classy break
Mtawarira’s 100th Test for the Boks in Bloemfontein in 2018 didn’t start well, as England pulled away to a 12-0 lead before the 30-minute mark. However, it was the big prop who started the Boks’ recovery, which led to the South Africans winning the Test and take an unassailable 2-0 lead going into the third and final Test at Newlands. Beast cheekily dug the ball out of the ruck before setting off on a 20-metre burst. That little run included – wait for this one – a goose step that sent the Free State crowd into raptures. After recycling the ball, No 8 Duane Vermeulen got the ball on space on the right side and bulldozed his way over the tryline. That sparked the recovery, which led to a memorable ending to Beast’s landmark outing.
Beasts belts out the national anthem one last time
We’ve already touched on his performance in the final. It was one of the magnificent performances by a prop in any international match. But what will stay with me for a very long time is the Beast’s performance during the national anthem, the way he bellowed it out with so much gusto and heart. Remember, the Beast wasn’t born in this country, but yet he represented the Boks with so much dignity and pride. He retires a true South African patriot, a man who brought a lot of joy to supporters and so much pain to the opposition. We will miss that baritone voice belting out the anthem, as well as that sly smile after he just demolished the opposition in the scrum. South Africa salutes the Beast!
Photo: MB Media/Getty Images