The trend of players being imported into top tier nations at an early age with a view to becoming nationalised and therefore available for international selection is becoming increasingly common in rugby.
Just look at the likes of Tim Visser or Manu Tuilagi for examples of players being re-nationalised for the purposes of filling a specific position that a national side feel they need to fill. After a bit of research it occurred to me that whilst a lot of people will point to the likes of Samoa and Tonga as examples of countries suffering from a player drain, a bit of research showed that it was in fact the Zimbabwean national side that is one of the hardest hit. After a bit more digging I have managed to pull together this slightly tenuous XV of players who could potentially have played in the Zimbabwean colours (just look at that backrow);
15 – Thom Evans
Ok so he might have had to retire a few years ago but Thom Evans was born in Harare and could of been part of this incredible Zimbabwean XV where he would likely have received more considerable more than the 10 caps
14 – Tonderai Chavhanga
The Zimbabwean born South African winger Tonderai Chavhanga played 4 times for the Springboks scoring 30 points in the process. No doubt had he been playing for Zimbabwe he would have considerably more international caps and tries to his name.
13 – Max Evans
Ok so including Max Evans here is an incredibly tenuous link but based on his brother Thom having been born in Zimbabwe I’m sure we can squeeze him and his 39 caps into this Zimbabwean XV.
12 – Nils Mordt
The Saracens and England 7’s centre is able to also cover full back and fly half and brings a wealth of top level experience to this Zimbabwean XV having spent the last 10 years playing in the Aviva Premiership.
11 – Takudzwa Ngwenya
Like Chavhanga, US international winger Ngwenya adds bags of pace out wide for this Zimbabwean XV. With 27 caps and 50 points to his name along with 340 points for Top 14 club Biarritz Ngwenya is an extremely potent finisher.
10 – Kyle Godwin
At just 21 the U20’s capped Australian fly-half Kyle Godwin could have been a mainstay in the Zimbabwean national side for the next decade. Born in Zimbabwe, the Force playemaker has plenty of potential to develop into an excellent pivot.
9 – Ian Prior
Godwin’s Force half-back partner Ian Prior can call on the ancestry card to make it into this Zimbabwean XV. Another young player who has had experience at the Reds and Brumbies who could have developed into a mainstay in the Zimbabwean national side.
1 – Tendai Mtawarira
Tendai Mtawarira also known as ‘The Beast’ has been one of the mainstays in the Springboks front row over the last 6 years and looks set to continue as such for years to come. One of World rugby’s most renowned props, The Beast originally hails from….you guessed it, Zimbabwe!
2 – Pieter Dixon
Ok so Dixon is another player who retired a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t that long ago for him not to still be a viable option (just look at Victor Matfield). Dixon has vast experience of playing in both the Premiership and Super 15.
3 – Brian Mujati
Another highly regarded prop, Brian Mujati would strike a formidable partnership with Mtawarira as the pair of them anchored down the scrum. Having already received 12 caps for the Springboks it seems inevitable he would have earned many more had he opted to play for Zimbabwe.
4 – Don Armand
The former Stormers man is now playing for Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership and is capable of covering both lock and back row positions. Despite not being capped internationally he brings considerable experience into this Zimbabwean XV.
5 – Andy Rose
The only player in this side to have ever represented Zimbabwe at senior level, Andy Rose is squeezed into the second row despite usually appearing as an all action flanker. His experience captaining Zimbabwe would be no doubt invaluable in this XV.
6 – Dave Denton
Scotland’s stand-out performer so far in the 2014 Six Nations, Dave Dention was originally born in Zimbabwe and would have been a great addition to this Zimbabwean XV having already claimed 19 caps for the Scots.
7 – David Pocock
The Australian openside has been hit by injuries recently but when fully fit has been recognised as being one of the stand out players in his position worldwide. Had he opted to play for his native Zimbabwe he would no doubt have been a huge asset to the national side.
8 – Dave Ewers
The Exeter Chiefs Number 8 has been in excellent form so far this season, so much so that he has recently been called up to the England Saxons squad. At just 23 he could of been another play to have built the Zimbabwean national side around.
Do you think more should be done to encourage players to stick with their national sides or is this an inevitable part of the globalisation of rugby?