Zimbabwean rugby player a revelation in the UK
GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK – Biarritz winger Takudzwa Ngwenya is a man whom England may come to know quite a bit more about.
The 24-year-old Biarritz wing, who came to fame by scorching past Springbok Bryan Habana during the World Cup in France, is shaping up to do the same thing to England’s finest in two years’ time.
Ngwenya scored a hat-trick here through pace, devilment and an exhilarating belief in his own talent.
Gloucester centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu admitted that they had no answer to Biarritz’s X-Factor, a star that might well illuminate the World Cup in 2011 if the United States see off Uruguay next month and progress through to England’s group.
Harare-born Ngwenya left Zimbabwe eight years ago and tried out as a wide receiver in American football while studying radiology at the University of Texas. He was spotted by the United States sevens team and then drafted by the former England scrum-half, Nigel Melville, who was in charge of the Eagles at the last World Cup.
"I was fast but too small for American football," Ngwenya said. "I took to sevens to stay in shape. I had no skills but could run a bit."
The 2007 World Cup proved a useful audition. Saracens’ Eddie Jones was soon on the phone. Ngwenya opted for Biarritz.
"I am happy here and more and more confident in myself," Ngwenya said. "They are trying to make something out of nothing with me."
The manner in which Ngwenya took his first try was quite splendid, the wing chipping Lesley Vainikolo with aplomb, gathering and zipping to the try-line. Was that his stock-in-trade trick?
"That’s the first time it’s happened," Ngwenya said.
Gloucester should be concerned. Mistakes cost them dear, ones that suggested self-belief is brittle. They folded all too easily after a bright opening. Their rearguard defence was flimsy.
They have been so stretched by injury, with seven back five players sidelined, that they were forced to issue an emergency summons to former captain, Jake Boer, who returned home to South Africa two years ago to run a tourism business that includes a kiteboarding school in Cape Town.
"I’d just come off the beach on Tuesday when I got the call," said substitute Boer, who scored one of Gloucester’s two second-half tries from short-range, despite the fact that his last game of 15-a-side had been 13 months ago.
"I’ll see how it goes until Christmas. We’ve got to learn quickly or there will be a deep hole to climb out of."
Former Wasps and Leicester centre Ayoola Erinle and Valentin Courrent scored Biarritz’s other tries while Tom Voyce, who had a torrid afternoon at the rear, scored Gloucester’s first. The Telegraph (UK)