The Open Side: Tendai Mtawarira on how the Springboks embraced diversity to win Rugby World Cup 2019
Tendai Mtawarira has provided an insight into the inclusive atmosphere that helped South Africa win Rugby World Cup 2019.
Mtawarira, known affectionately as the Beast since a childhood friend gave him the nickname, is the first guest on The Open Side, a new series of in-depth interviews and stories told by the people who were right at their centre.
The Zimbabwe-born prop overcame adversity to become the first black player to play 100 tests for the Springboks, experiencing a Lions test series victory as well as Tri Nations and Rugby Championship success.
But, the crowning achievement of his remarkable career came at Japan 2019, when he helped South Africa lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time.
And, on the first episode of The Open Side, Mtawarira praises the work done by Rassie Erasmus to make sure that every member of his squad, black and white, felt comfortable.
“Everybody used to just tiptoe around this issue and it actually probably hindered us,” Mtawarira said.
“When Rassie came in, we spoke about it. Everybody felt comfortable because Rassie was like, we need to achieve a team that is fully representative of how diverse this country is. We need to have inclusivity and everybody needs to feel comfortable, you know, in the team culture.”
He added: “Mythical stuff [that] was kind of clouding the team from being successful were starting to be removed, you know, slowly.
“So that's what I felt like, the Springbok environment became more comfortable for everybody, you know, especially people of colour. And for that fact, that's why we could go on this journey.”
Watch the first episode of The Open Side above and check out the official World Rugby YouTube channel for new episodes.