BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
FORMER Zimbabwe youth international Tinashe Muchena is ready to snub an opportunity to play for the USA Eagles in order to emulate his father by representing the country of his birth at senior level.
The 24-year-old loose forward is one of the brightest prospects in USA rugby at the moment and capped off a memorable season by becoming the first Zimbabwean rugby player to earn a professional contract in last month’s Major League Rugby (MLR) Collegiate.
Muchena will feature in the upcoming edition of the MLR — the highest level of professional rugby in the US and Canada — after being signed by the Houston SaberCats, who are coached by former Springboks boss Heyneke Meyer.
The former St George’s College head boy’s meteoric rise has led to fears that he could snub a call up to the Sables with the hope of qualifying to play for the US Eagles at senior international level.
But Muchena told StandardSport in an interview that his sights are firmly set on playing for the Sables after being recently approached by the Sable’s technical team headed by Brendan Dawson.
The former St George’s College student believes a call up to the Sables squad was long overdue as he has been waiting for the opportunity for some time now.
“They’ve recently approached me and said they’re kind of interested in me and I’ve been added to a player pool group chat but you know I feel it’s better late than never. I’ve represented Zimbabwe all the way through the Under-21s and I think an opportunity to compete for the Sables jersey should’ve been at least given to me earlier but at this point I can’t complain and I can just take the opportunity in front of me,” Muchena said.
Muchena said his decision to play for the Sables is motivated by his desire to emulate his father, the 52 year-old Willard, the Old Hararians (OH) legend who is widely regarded as one of the best Zimbabwean rugby players of his generation, never to represent his country at senior level.
“Playing for the Zimbabwe Sables is something that’s always been on my mind. I actually don’t know if my dad played for the Zimbabwe men’s senior national team or it was just the age group teams. however having myself and my dad play both for senior men’s level for Zimbabwe team and becoming the first black father and son to do so is something that is dear to me and my dad and I’d love to achieve that. So basically I’m keen to play for the Sables but if the opportunity to play for the Eagles arises before that I’ll consider it. At this point I just want an opportunity,” he said.
A product of St George’s College, Muchena had the opportunity to play alongside his father in the OH second team before he earned a scholarship to study and play rugby at Lindenwold University in Saint Charles, Missouri.