Beast: Boks embraced diversity to win World Cup

Tendai Mtawarira has opened up about the inclusive atmosphere that was key to helping the Springboks win the World Cup in 2019.

Mtawarira, who retired from all rugby shortly after winning the World Cup, was the first guest on World Rugby’s ‘The Open Side’, a new series of in-depth interviews and stories told by the people who were right at their centre.

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Born in Zimbabwe, Mtawarira overcame adversity to become the most-capped Springbok prop, as well as the first black player to play 100 tests for the Springboks.

In the process, the former loosehead experienced a Test-series victory against the British & Irish Lions in 2009, as well as Tri-Nations and Rugby Championship success.

The pinnacle of Mtawarira’s career came in Yokohama in 2019, when he played a major role in helping the Springboks lift the Webb Ellis trophy for the third time.

During the interview, Mtawarira credited the work done by Rassie Erasmus in making that each and every player, regardless of their race and background, felt comfortable in the team’s set-up.

‘Everybody used to just tiptoe around this issue and it actually probably hindered us,’ Mtawarira said.

‘When Rassie came in, we spoke about it. Everybody felt comfortable because Rassie was like, we need to achieve a team that is fully representative of how diverse this country is. We need to have inclusivity and everybody needs to feel comfortable, you know, in the team culture.

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He added:’“Mythical stuff [that] was kind of clouding the team from being successful were starting to be removed, you know, slowly.

‘So that’s what I felt like, the Springbok environment became more comfortable for everybody, you know, especially people of colour. And for that fact, that’s why we could go on this journey.’

Photo: Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack