ZIMBABWE international rugby star Farai Mudariki hopes his meteoric rise to the top tier of English rugby will provide inspiration for young rugby players coming through the ranks in the country to follow in his footsteps.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Blessed with explosiveness, tremendous ball-carrying and handling skills, the 23-year-old tighthead prop’s stock continues to rise and was last week being rewarded with a new-one year contract at English Premiership side Worcester Warriors for the 2019/20 season.
Mudariki arrived at Sixways in July having spent two years at Castres Espoirs, the Youth Academy team for the four-time French champions Castres Olympique, and a season at French third-tier side Stado Tarbes Pyrenees Rugby.
Although he is the only fullyfledged Zimbabwe international currently playing for a top-tier Rugby Union club, he is, nevertheless, keeping his feet on the ground knowing that he needs to be an example to other upcoming local players.
“It feels great to be rewarded with a new contract by the club, the coaches have guided me and I really thank them for having faith me. It’s a big responsibility having the opportunity to play at such a high level because you’re one of the very few who have come out of the (Zimbabwean) system and made it out here,” Mudariki told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“I sort of have to watch my every move and hopefully other upcoming players can learn from me. Obviously everyone’s path is going to be different, but I hope I can show the younger players that I was once a young boy in Harare that has managed to reach this level. I hope that can motivate them in some way,” he said.
While Farai has been working hard to establish himself at Worcester, his elder brother Hilton, who is also the Zimbabwe Sevens captain, has been similarly making strides at English Championship side Jersey Reds.
“Hilton and I are very proud to be here and very privileged to have the opportunity to be playing at a high level here in the UK. It’s something you don’t take for granted. You are constantly reminding yourself each and every single day that you’re one of the privileged few that have managed to take themselves from Zimbabwe where we don’t have the opportunity to play professional rugby,” he said.
Mudariki’s move to Worcester also saw him linking up with former Zimbabwe youth international Marco Mama, who he credits for helping him settle quickly at the club.
“I have settled in really well at Worcester, it’s a great environment. It’s also good to have fellow Zimbabwean Marco Mama alongside me. He’s helped me settle at the club together with a few of the South African boys who played with my brother back in South Africa. They’ve really helped me settle into the club.”
After being rewarded with a new deal last week, Mudariki, who has so far made two appearances for Warriors — both in the Premiership Cup — said he would continue working hard with the hope of getting more opportunities.
“I’d love to keep developing my game, which obviously is going to be a process for me, but in that process I would just like to keep pushing on, competing for game time as it’s really quite a competitive atmosphere.”
He added: “There are lots of world-class players around and my opportunities have been scarce. But I’d say I must have managed to show the coaches something from the few chances I had for them to reward me with a new contract, so I am really happy and hopefully I can keep pushing on for the rest of the season and get more opportunities along the way.”
Mudariki’s rugby journey started at the age of six when his brother Hilton, who was nine then, introduced him to the game before enrolling at St John’s Preparatory School in Harare.
After a brief stay at St John’s Preparatory School, Mudariki was sent to boarding school in South Africa at Cordwalles Preparatory School for Boys in Pietermaritzburg, where he excelled as a hooker, playing for the school’s first XV and the district teams in his final year.
While his stints at St John’s Prep and Cordwalles laid the platform for his budding career, it was at Michaelhouse College in KwaZulu-Natal where he was moulded into a complete rugby player.
Following a strong of solid performances for Michaelhouse, he was selected into KwaZulu-Natal’s (Sharks) side for the Under-18 Academy Week.
Mudariki made his Sables debut at the tender age of 19 during the 2014 Africa Cup competition, which served as the qualifiers for the 2016 Rugby World Cup, scoring a brilliant try in his first match against Madagascar.
He was also an integral member of former Springboks coach Peter de Villiers’ Sables squad which missed on qualification for this year’s Rugby World Cup to be played in Japan.