Chip off the old block

HARARE - Former Zimbabwe rugby international Willard Muchena is already a very proud man for many reasons.

The former no-nonsense Old Hararians lock is on the verge of becoming the first ex-Sable to produce a son who will also wear the famous green and white shirt at senior level.

Muchena’s son Tinashe is a member of Zimbabwe’s Under-20 rugby team that is currently taking part in the World Rugby U20 Trophy which ends today at Harare Sports Club.

Tinashe, who also plays as a second row forward, has put in some decent performances for the Junior Sables albeit in a losing cause.

The die has been cast and the younger Muchena is on the path of making his Sables debut in the near future.

When that happens, the Muchenas will make history by becoming the first black family to have both father and son capped by the Sables.

Zimbabwean rugby family dynasties are more common among the white community due to a longer heritage in the sport.

Peter Kaulback, who starred for Zimbabwe at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 where Zimbabwe was Africa’s sole representative, is the father of Graham Kaulback, who already has two Sables caps.

Bulawayo brothers Jan and Schalk Ferreira’s are also in the same class since their late father Kobus also wore the famous green and white shirt during the Rhodesia era.

Lock Jonathan Goosen, part of Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup-winning team of 2012, is the grandson of a former Sable.

Now 46, Muchena, who earned several Sables caps until the early 2000s, stands on the threshold.

“It’s something to be really grateful to God for, it’s a rare occasion where father and son attain such achievement in the same sport,” says a proud Muchena.

There are already striking parallels between father and son.

Young Tinashe plays in the second row for the Junior Sables, a position his dad excelled at for Zimbabwe in his heyday.

That’s not all. Tinashe, who is headboy and first team rugby captain for St George’s College, plays either flank or eighthman at school, which were also his father’s preferred positions as a schoolboy back in the days at Prince Edward.

Dad was an all-round sportsman at school. So too is the young man.

Muchena was a member of the Zimbabwe Schools athletics team between 1987 and 1989 and then played Zimbabwe Schools, Zimbabwe Under-19 and Zimbabwe Under-23 rugby in 1989, 1990 and 1991 respectively in addition to being a rugby squad member during the 1995 All-Africa Games hosted by Zimbabwe.

Versatility is also Tinashe’s forte.

He has played for Zimbabwe at Under-16 level in rugby, athletics and basketball.

Last year, he made the Coca-Cola Craven Week team and has also played rugby, athletics and basketball at national Under-20 level.

At St George’s, he has immersed himself into the life of the school.

In addition to being headboy, he is captain of rugby, basketball and athletics and has full colours in all the three sporting codes as well as one in leadership and half-colours for music.

And oh, after 27 years of loyal dedicated service to Old Hararians as player and first team coach, the older Muchena is still strutting his stuff as a player in the second team as part of the club’s policy in which the veterans team up with reserve players as a way of passing down knowledge.

“We pretty much play the same positions; lock, flank and eighthman but for (OH) seconds since I’m much slower I get to play lock and he plays flank,” says Muchena.

But proud as he is, there is some kind of family rivalry between father and son over choice of schools.

“Well, I support him big time but problem arises when Saints and PE are playing,” says Muchena Snr. “I am a die-hard PE supporter.”

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