HARARE – While the national team of his African birthplace was landing in Europe on a mission to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup in three decades, former Zimbabwe youth international Eli Snyman was hoisting the English Premiership title with his club Leicester Tigers at the weekend.

Top-class players like Snyman and others were on Zimbabwe’s radar in the Sables’ concerted efforts to return to the World Cup through a forthcoming African qualification tournament in France at the end of June.

But the stars weren’t able to commit to their country of birth because of contractual complexities that would have affected their player status in their adopted countries.

At the weekend, Harare-born Snyman (26) came off the bench as Leicester clinched its first title in nearly a decade after edging out Saracens 15-12 in the final of the Gallagher Premiership at Twickenham in London.

The steely second row attended St John’s College in the Zimbabwean capital city and captained the country’s Under-18 team before enrolling at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

He impressed well enough in the youth system of South Africa to be selected for the country’s Under-21 side, the Baby Springboks, in 2016.

Snyman joins Leicester ahead of the 2021-22 season from Italian club Benetton Rugby.

His success with Leicester has been applauded back in Zimbabwe, with his former national Under-18 coach Godwin “Jaws” Murambiwa commenting on a Facebook post: “Well done mfana (young man).”


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