HARARE – Former Zimbabwe Sports and Education Minister David Coltart and ex-national team coach Brian Murphy have led tributes following the death this week of Iain “Bucky” Buchanan, one of the country’s most capped rugby internationals and later on a renowned coach.

Coltart, a staunch sports fan, was Zimbabwe’s Sports Minister during an inclusive government between 2009 and 2013 whilst Murphy was the coach when the country featured in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 in New Zealand where the Sables were the only African team in the tournament, as they were again in the following edition in 1991.

Wrote Coltart, in reaction to a post by Murphy: “I am saddened by the news that Bucky Buchanan has died. My deepest condolences are extended to Lydia and the entire family.”

Murphy had earlier posted: “RIP Bucky Buchanan, one of the all-time greats.”

Kenyon Ziehl, an all-round Zimbabwean sportsman who later made his name as a cricket administrator – having been part of the Southern African nation’s 1987 Rugby World Cup squad – was coached by the late Buchanan in a Zimbabwe Under-19 side that hosted England Schools in the early 80s.

“He was a bit before my time, but he coached me for Zimbabwe Under-19s against English Schools in 1982,” Ziehl told SportsCast on Tuesday.

“He was an incredible rugby player, a tough and resilient scrumhalf. We, as youngsters, looked up to him.”

Buchanan, with 73 appearances in the green-and-white stripes of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe before 1980), became the country’s most capped player at that time.

Despite some of those games not being international Tests, it was all the same an incredible number in this extremely physical sport.

Veteran sportswriter Glen Byrom, in his co-authored book on iconic Rhodesian-Zimbabwean sports stars, described Buchanan as a “durable” player.

“Buchanan’s record is more than an impressive statistic, for he has proved himself to be one of the most durable players ever to step onto a Southern African rugby field,” wrote Byrom.

“A short, solidly built man, he is driven by a fierce sense of competitiveness and patriotism and sustained by an excess of courage that has long been admired by local rugby fans.”

Hailing for Matabeleland, Buchanan captained the new nation of Zimbabwe in 1980 on a three-game tour of South Africa. He led the Zimbabweans to a 36-6 victory over Eastern Free State in Bethlehem.

Described by Byrom in the book as the “epitome of a team man and patriot,” Bulawayo-born Buchanan captained the country in nearly 50 games, a national record.


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