LONDON — Zimbabwe-born rugby stars Don Armand and Dave Ewers are on the brink of a second consecutive Aviva Premiership title.
Having already qualified for the playoffs, the duo helped Exeter Chiefs to a 45 – 5 win over struggling London Irish on Sunday, which enabled the Chiefs to book a home semi-final. Both Armand and Ewers were in the starting line-up.
It has been a fulfilling spell for Ewers and Armand at an individual level, too, with both seeing regular action throughout a campaign which has so far yielded 15 wins and five losses for the Chiefs.
Ewers, in particular, will be relieved to complete the season without a recurrence of the injury woes which derailed his momentum at the start of the campaign and, in fact, have haunted him for the greater part of the last three years.
Ewers’ season only started in November following another lengthy injury layoff, with his first appearance coming in Chiefs’ 61-58 loss to Scarlets in the LV Cup.
The 27-year-old, who left Zimbabwe with his parents when he was 14, has since accumulated a total of 12 appearances in all competitions – a similar return to the 2016-17 season when another prolonged injury layoff curtailed his progress.
Armand, on the other hand, has been spared any such misfortunes to become a first-team mainstay at Chiefs with 27 appearances across all competitions.
So impressive has the 29-year-old been that he earned only his second cap in the Six Nations Championship during England’s 15-24 loss to Ireland last month.
Another Zimbabwean-born player in the Aviva Premiership, Mike Williams, had his season cut short after limping off the pitch as his Leicester Tigers beat Worcester Warriors 34-5 at the beginning of March.
The Bulawayo-born star, who has been haunted by injuries in recent years, had 17 appearances for Leicester by the time he got injured.
Williams, who left Zimbabwe to initially settle in South Africa before moving to England, has endured three broken arms over the last few seasons, one of which caused him to withdraw from an England camp for the Autumn internationals in September 2016.
Williams and Ewers are yet to play for England and therefore remain eligible to feature for Zimbabwe in future.