HARARE – Away from the hard-hitting eighthman that Tapiwa Tsomondo has come to be known for in the Zimbabwe Under-19 rugby team lays a soft hearted rising sports star.
Whilst many rugby players are known to wail and gnash teeth to psyche up for a big match, Tsomondo says reading the Bible sets him into the mood.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear,” Tsomondo recites Isaiah 59 verse 1 which has become his anthem.
Contrary to the menace he is at the breakdown and the seeming disregard for the well-being of his body when he takes to the field, Tsomondo says his performance on the field does not define his character.
Tsomondo was one of the standout performers for the Young Sables at the just ended Confederation of African Rugby (Car) Under-19 Championships held at Prince Edward School. Being one of the five players who represented the country at the Junior World Rugby Trophy held earlier this year in the United States, much was expected from the former Tigers vice captain.
Tsomondo who is now at Dale College in the Eastern Cape, South Africa had his finest performance perhaps in the final against Namibia despite the Young Sables’ heart-breaking 44-23 defeat.
Zimbabwe was defeated but not before Tsomondo put in one of his most memorable displays in the white and green jersey of the Young Sables.
The Harare-raised rugby player ran himself to stand still, using his deceptive strength and good vision.
Tsomondo took an individualistic but necessary step to bring Zimbabwe back into the game as the Namibians threatened to run away with the match in the second half. Starting at the back of the scrum, Tsomondo was imperious, pulling the strings for the Young Sables at the breakdown.
His form combined well with Dale College teammate and flyhalf Luke Masasire and for a few moments in the second half Zimbabwe looked like they had found their mojo.
Zimbabwe’s offensive inroads yielded two tries but it was a case of too little too late.
“At the beginning of the match the guys didn’t believe, but as the game wore on, we began to have confidence, but it was too late,” Tsomondo said after the final.
Zimbabwe Sevens rugby manager Bruce Hobson who followed proceedings with a keen interest said Tsomondo’s strength and mobility could be an asset for the Cheetahs.
“He is wonderful talent,” Hobson said.
“He is one player who could bring a lot to the senior sevens side, It’s a pity we can’t include him in our plans for now, I understand he has plans with EP Kings, he is certainly one for the future,” Hobson added.
Tsomondo first came into the spotlight when he broke into the Prince Edward first team as a form three student.
He went on to represent the country in last year’s Under-18 Craven Week, where he churned out some impressive performances.
It was at Craven Week that the Harare-raised eighthman caught the eye of Dale College coach Steve Turner.
Tsomondo joined the institution on a rugby bursary and became an instant success as he helped the side to a first solid season.
The Eastern Cape-based school only lost twice during the season to help them finish in the top 10 of South Africa‘s Schools ranking, a landmark for Dale College. Tsomondo’s most memorable game in that season was the 12-7 victory over rivals Selborne College with the Zimbabwean crossing the whitewash twice.
This attracted interest from new Super Rugby franchise EP Kings offering him a junior contract while the Durban-based Sharks offered him a place at their prestigious academy.
At the moment it looks like he is swaying in the EP Kings way as it will give him an opportunity to make a name for himself at an upcoming franchise.
Tsomondo credits his former coach at PE and the Young Sables, Godwin Murambiwa for shaping his early rugby career.
One of the things Tsomondo has had to overcome is peer pressure.
“I have been convinced to take steroids a lot of times and other performance boosters but I didn’t take,” he said.