Johannesburg - The International Rugby Board has inducted brothers Richard and Kennedy Tsimba, two of Zimbabwe’s finest sportsmen, into the IRB Hall of Fame.
Through their superb skills and ground-breaking exploits the Tsimba family name is held in the same high esteem in rugby as the Flower siblings, Andy and Grant, enjoy in cricket.
Richard - the first black player to represent Zimbabwe in international rugby and a veteran of two Rugby World Cups (1987 and 1991) - was bestowed with his honour posthumously as he tragically died in a car accident 12 years ago, aged just 34.
“I feel humbled and honoured to receive this accolade for Richard and I,” said Kennedy. “This induction gives me a feeling of accomplishment and acknowledgement of all the hard years of hard work to get where I am now.”
“All the sacrifices made by the Tsimba family and others who have built me up over the years, who had belief in me even when I didn’t believe in myself at times.
“The accolade will also hopefully mark an era in history that proves that you can come from nowhere and reach your goal and beyond, and open the doors for more black Rugby players, and give them hope that they too can achieve great things.”
IRB vice vhairperson Oregan Hoskins added: “The Tsimba brothers have left an indelible mark on rugby in Southern Africa.
"They are pioneers of the game who will be remembered by generations to come. It is fitting that they will be captured in rugby’s most famous place for memory, the IRB Hall of Fame.”
Once considered amongst the best flyhalves in the world, Richard’s younger brother Kennedy became the first black player to captain Zimbabwe when he took over from Brendan Dawson in 1999.
Kennedy, 38, signed off in 1999 with four Sables caps to his name, but his silky skills still had a platform on which to shine at club and provincial level. In 1997 Kennedy’s career took him to the UK, where he enjoyed a brief spell at Bath as understudy to RWC 2003 winner Mike Catt.
He played Super Rugby for the Bulls, producing many stellar performances. But the dazzling flyhalf reserved his best rugby for the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs, breaking a Free State record for the most points scored in a season (228), a feat which earned him the Currie Cup Player of the Year award in 2002. He received the same honour again in 2008. ‘
The King of Bloemfontein’ - as he was affectionately known - holds the South African record for fastest player in first class history to reach 1 000 points.