Madosh Tambwe, who scored a Vodacom Super Rugby record-equalling four tries in one match, was completely surprised when he received a phone call from Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White, inviting him to join the Pretoria team.
The 23-year-old forms part of Vodacom’s current focus on the growing crop of ‘Future Champs’ within the Bulls fold.
‘Receiving a phone call from Jake was quite a surprise. I never expected a call from him, and then I also wondered how he’d even got my number,’ he says with a laugh.
The reality is that Tambwe’s life has been full of surprises up to this point of joining one of world rugby’s most celebrated teams.
Born in Kinshasha during the transition of the country from Zaire to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tambwe moved to South Africa with his family and was raised in Johannesburg. In his final years as a student at Parktown Boys’ High and while playing for the Lions U19 team, Tambwe was confronted for the first time by somebody who gave him a dream to aim for.
The Lions U19 coach, Joey Mongalo (who has since also joined the Bulls senior coaching staff), asked him what he planned to do with his life. It was the spark that put him on his journey to a career as a professional rugby player, playing for the Lions, Sharks and now the Bulls before the age of 23.
‘Being asked what you want to do with your life is a very tricky question because everybody is on a different journey in their lives. But now I’ve been blessed to have played for three great South African franchises. Right now, I’m focused on settling in at the Bulls and focusing on my rugby. That’s where my mind is at the moment,’ he said.
Tambwe identified himself as a clear ‘Future Champ’ when he equalled the record of four Super Rugby tries which he scored in a 2018 match for the Lions against the Stormers. It is this early success in the game that he wants to keep building on as he now pulls on the famed blue jersey of the Bulls.
‘I’m privileged to play for the Bulls. As I’ve approached everything in my life, I’ll embrace the moment and take it one step at a time and not think too far ahead.’
Tambwe admits he’s already being challenged to grow at the Bulls and is relishing this new environment.
‘The coaching staff is challenging me quite a bit. Coach Jake wants me to stretch my wings a bit in terms of my positions, and he’s asked me to study fullback as well so I can act as cover for the team in this position. That’s a challenge, and I like that. I’m kept on my toes here, and I’m not being allowed to get too comfortable in just one position.’
And as much as he feels privileged to pull on a Bulls jersey, Tambwe is also adamant that he isn’t thinking too far into the future in terms of what it means to play for a union that has produced some of the greatest players in the history of the game.
‘It will always be a great responsibility when you put on that Bulls jersey. There’s such a rich history here. But, first and foremost, I want to earn my stripes at this union. Only then can I start thinking about the future. Sure, in the back of my mind there is the thought that I want to carry on where some of the greats have left off and I want to also leave something for the next generation of Bulls players to build on. But for now, I just want to be the best I can and focus on the next game in front of me.’
His focus matches his entire ethos about what it means to be identified as a Vodacom ‘Future Champ’ and represent the future of the Bulls.
‘I’ve got a great hunger to learn and be better, and I strive to be the best I can be. I’m doing what I love, and every weekend I am able to showcase my talent for people to enjoy. I want to keep getting better so I can add to the proud legacy of this team.’