HomeSportMutare’s rugby diamond dazzles in Romania

Mutare’s rugby diamond dazzles in Romania

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

AT 1,83m and 100kg, Romania-based Ngoni Chibuwe is arguably one of the most powerful and muscular Zimbabwean rugby players.

The 26 year-old powerfully built centre personifies the stereotype of the ultimate alpha male; the living embodiment of machismo.

Only a handful of rugby players in Zimbabwe — among both forwards and backline players – can claim similarly freakish physical attributes, which is quite remarkable in rugby where strength and masculinity are calling cards.

The strongly built Chibuwe’s physical attributes and his abrasive style of play have allowed him to quickly adapt to the physical, confrontational style of play popular in the European nation, with regular standout performances for Tomitanii Rugby Club, who he joined two years ago from Spanish top-flight side Getxo Artea Rugby Taldea.

The profile of Zimbabwe international rugby player Chibuwe continues to rise in Romania after last week completing a big move to the most successful club in the European country, Steaua București, from fellow SuperLiga club Tomitanii Rugby Club ahead of the new season.

Chibuwe is currently the country’s lone flag bearer in Romania whose senior national rugby side has long been one of the stronger European teams outside the Six Nations tournament.

Last week Chibuwe was among the two players to cross the floor from Tomitanii Rugby Club to Steaua București together with his Fijian midfield partner Jone Marawa Nasalo ahead of the new campaign.

The Mutare-born star, who is affectionately known in local rugby circles as “Stoney”, believes the move to Steaua BucureÈ™ti is a big stride in his professional rugby career.

“Praise be to Jehovah for the opportunity to play at a top club like Steaua,” Chibuwe, who is a devoted Christian, told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview from his base in the Romanian capital.

“I am super-stoked for this opportunity. Steaua is a great environment and I am looking forward to be part of this prestigious team. My goal is to enjoy every second and give all I can for the club. A massive thank you to all those who have supported me in my career, from my family, friends and those who have coached me throughout my career. It’s a journey and I’m just striving to tick all the boxes,” he said.

Chibuwe, who is an integral member of Zimbabwe’s national fifteens and rugby sevens side, believes the stint in Romania has moulded him into a better player.

“I have had a wonderful time playing in the Romania SuperLiga. It’s a full-time professional competition which gives me plenty of time to focus on every detail of the game. Like every other league, it comes with its ups and downs, but that can only mould me into a better player,” said Chibuwe.

Steaua București are a professional Romanian rugby union club from Ghencea, south-west of  București, who play in the SuperLiga, the first division of Romanian rugby.

They are the most successful Romanian rugby union team in the Romanian SuperLiga with 24 championship wins and 15 Romanian Cup wins and Chibuwe will be hoping to help the club maintain its success.

Chibuwe has been based in Romania since January 2019 after his marriage with Spanish side Getxo Artea Rugby Taldea ended prematurely after just three and a  half months.

Getxo was not happy after Chibuwe missed a few league games while on national duty during the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series which allowed the two parties to mutually terminate their contract.

A multi-talented sportsman from a young age Chibuwe attended Mutare Boys’ High School and later Hillcrest College where he excelled in both rugby and cricket.

However, he eventually settled for a career in rugby which proved to be the right decision after being enrolled by the Sharks Academy in Durban.

His professional rugby career, however, set off in 2015 after being drafted into the Sharks Sevens side.

In the same year, he received his first Sables cap after being drafted into the squad for the Hong Kong Cup of Nations tournament and his career has been on an upward trajectory ever since as he went on to make the Sharks squad for the 2017 Currie Cup qualifiers.

He has also established himself as a key member of the Cheetahs squad, where some of his major highlights include playing at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States, and winning the 2018 Africa Cup Sevens rugby title.

Chibuwe, who was born in Mutare’s high-density suburb of Sakubva, is also heavily involved in the development of rugby in Mutare after launching his rugby academy, Hearts of Stone Rugby Academy in 2017.

Away from the rugby field, Chibuwe also has a passion for fitness training and recently launched his own YouTube channel where he shares knowledge with fitness enthusiasts around the world.

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