Tendai Mtawarira brutally lived up to his nickname when he turned the Lions into pussies in 2009 at the age of 23…
- Twelve years ago Tendai Mtawarira turned the Lions British & Irish into pussycats
- The first test in 2009 offered a one-man destruction of the dreams of the lions
- Poor Phil Vickery was eaten for dinner before being replaced 44 minutes later
- Stuart Barnes described it as a ‘full scale sports disaster zone’ for the Lions
Twelve years ago, The Beast turned Lions into kitties.
The first Test of the 2009 series offered a one-man destruction of British and Irish dreams – headlong gag Tendai Mtawarira, the nightmare figure.
Poor old Phil Vickery, at the head of the Lions, was eaten for supper in Durban, once practically catapulted out of the scrum before being replaced 44 minutes later.
Twelve years ago, The Beast (center) turned British and Irish lions into kitties
Described by commentator Stuart Barnes at the time as a “major sports disaster zone” for the Lions, it was Mtawarira who brutally lived up to his moniker.
“We just went into beast mode!” Beast now reflects with a huge smile.
‘Crazy man. It was amazing. I can’t even explain – everything just worked out on the day.
“To someone like Phil Vickery, he’s a legend and always will be. To have been England captain, to have played in so many World Cups, he was such a big challenge for me and I was just glad I got my way against him. I still respect him.’
The first test of the 2009 series offered a one-man destruction of British and Irish dreams – loose gag Tendai Mtawarira (right) the nightmare figure
Poor old Phil Vickery (above), at the forefront of the Lions, was eaten for dinner in Durban, once practically catapulted out of the scrum before being in for 44 minutes.
Mtawarira was just 23 at the time and immediately became an icon of the game as he won the man of the match and the Boks the opening test of that series.
“It was great,” he says now.
‘I had just made my debut the year before. To be a part of something special that only happens for us every 12 years was surreal – I had to pinch myself.
“For the older guys on the team, they had been waiting a long time for that series. To be a part of that, it was really great for me to work with the winners of the World Cup – Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield. I was a sponge and wanted to soak up all the advice to see how those guys prepared.
Described by commentator Stuart Barnes (above) at the time as a ‘full sports disaster zone’ for the Lions, it was Mtawarira who lived up to his brutal style moniker
Mtawarira (right) was just 23 at the time and became an instant icon of the game when he won man of the match and the Boks passed the opening test of that series
“It was definitely an emotional series to play. I realize the history behind it, and before that lost the Springboks in 1997.
“We had a meeting with the Springboks of that time, and they said how awful it was to lose it, and it left a sour taste in their mouths, but they passed the baton and we had to make up for what had happened.
“It was emotional. It took us a while to realize we were winning the series because it was such a big event and the margins were so small.
“I knew the history and the fierce competition with the Lions. It’s not just a game.’
Mtawarira believes Warren Gatland’s side will now be out to ‘venge’ that ‘great’ series
That still sounds true now – although this series will be the creepiest ever in Covid times.
‘It will be unique,’ adds Mtawarira.
“It will be difficult for the players not to have fans creating the atmosphere, but there is enough motivation on both sides.
The Lions want to avenge what happened in 2009. On the Boks side, we haven’t played in so long, so putting on that Springbok jersey will mean so much to so many of those players.
“The hunger and the passion will come out. It’s going to be a fierce battle.’