By Sports Reporter
RISING Zimbabwean rugby star Tapiwa Mafura continues to make tremendous strides in South African rugby after sealing a breakthrough move to the Toyota Cheetahs ahead of their participation in the PRO14 and Currie Cup competitions next season.
The 22-year-old Hwange-born versatile player, who can play both fullback and wing, signed a two year contract with the Bloemfontein-based franchise, who see him as the ideal replacement for Clayton Blommetjies, who last month moved to Welsh club Scarlets.
“Tapiwa Mafura, will be joining the Toyota Cheetahs early November,” The Cheetahs announced on their official website yesterday.
“The wing and fullback is contacted for two years. The 22-year-old exciting and versatile Leopards and North West University fullback capped off a memorable season with selection into the 2018 Varsity Cup Dream Team XV.
“He excelled in SA schools’ rugby starring in fly-half, wing and fullback before moving to fullback. Mafura’s big break came under the current Leopards and NWU Varsity Cup coach Jonathan Mokuena, who included him in the senior Leopards team for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in 2017,” the Cheetahs said.
The move to the Toyota Cheetahs will see Mafura following in the footsteps of his legendary compatriot and World Rugby Hall of fame inductee Kennedy Tsimba.
Nicknamed ‘The King of Bloemfontein’, the dazzling flyhalf, broke Free State record for the most points scored in a season (228) and was voted the Currie Cup player of the year in 2002 and 2008.
Mafura was born in Hwange before moving to South Africa, where he attended Ermelo Christian School (Grade 3–7) and Ermelo High School in Mpumalanga.
He in schools’ rugby and there he realised his talent and ambition to make it as a rugby player. He played a combination of fly-half, wing and fullback at school, but attributes his move to fullback to the former Leopards U.19 coach, Melusi Mthethwa.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union have also been keeping tabs on the player and in June was included in Peter de Villiers’ provisional Sables squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers although he didn’t make the final squad due to club commitments.
De Villiers could now face a tough task to convince the skilful back to play for Zimbabwe as his move to the Cheetahs further enhances his chances of playing for the South Africa national rugby side, the Springboks.