Mukondiwa’s bittersweet return

HARARE - A roller coaster of emotions greeted Norman Mukondiwa’s return to the Sables fold after two years in the wilderness.

The 33-year-old loose forward was making a return to the Zimbabwe rugby side two years after he was deemed surplus to requirements by former coach Brendan Dawson.

Such was his sensation that the powerfully built flank shed tears while attempting to sing the Zimbabwe national anthem before the Sables 19-8 victory over Tunisia on Saturday.

He says his tears represented all the hard work, sweat and blood he had endured in the last couple of years on his road back to earning a call up to the national rugby team.

“It’s an emotional game and sometimes it comes out. That’s the reason we play this game,” he told the Daily News after Saturday’s match.

Unfortunately for the forward, who plays for Cape Town-based Union Milnerton RFC, his afternoon in the green and white lasted only 20 minutes after he suffered a concussion and could not continue with the game.

Replacement Fortune Chipendu filled his shoes well going on to score Zimbabwe’s only try of the encounter in a tightly contested Africa Cup Group 1A tie.

“Not really the way I would have hoped it would have gone but that’s how the game is,” he said.

“It was a good game for both sides. Although I would have wanted to play out the entire game, I am happy.

“I for one know the road I have travelled to get here. I’m thankful to all the support I have received from family, my coaches at my club and everyone around me has been very supportive.”

The Bulawayo-born Mukondiwa says his recall to the Sables is "humbling and an honour,” adding that being jettisoned by Dawson, who made him stand-in captain away to Zambia in 2007, is now forgotten.

“The former coach had his reasons which I was never told of but all that is all water under the bridge now. I’m in good shape and enjoying my game,” he adds.

Up next for Zimbabwe is a sterner test against Namibia on August 15 and the former Old Miltonians back row will hope to have a major say in that assignment away from home.

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