Why Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira wants to be out front in his post rugby pursuits
He was the Springbok No 1 in more than 100 Tests and it perhaps stands to reason Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira stepped away from the game after triumph on the game's highest stage in the Rugby World Cup final in 2019, but he has not rested on his laurels.
His tough upbringing has taught the former loosehead prop not to be complacent and he is all too aware that things can be taken away from you in a blink.
“I've coped well,” he said about adjusting to life post retirement. “I always prepared myself for the next chapter after rugby. The biggest thing for me was to depart on my own terms, to go out on the highest of highs. I left with a big smile on my face.
“Now I'm enjoying everything that I'm doing. Civilian life has been quite good to me because I get to spend time with my family. I get to see another side of my kids I never knew before. I try to pick them up from school every second day. I'm enjoying it.”
Post retirement Mtawarira has gone about his business with the same restless energy that characterised his play. “The Beast has been up to a lot of things, you know. I have been working for Fidelity for the last 10 years. I run a subsidiary. That has been keeping me very busy. On top of that I have been studying. I have completed my post graduate diploma and I'm about to start my MBA in June.
“My Beast Foundation has been launched. That is going to be my vehicle of giving back in a big, big way. I've been keeping myself busy. Idle hands hey ...”
The 35-year-old says he has no regrets from a playing career that saw him run out in 117 Tests. He doesn't miss the training or rough and tumble of the sport, but its people. “The biggest thing is the camaraderie and the friendships that you create on the field. That is the special part of rugby. If I get onto the field now it will hit me. I was blessed with a long career. I got to achieve everything I wanted to. I have no regrets.”
He admits there is still pressure, though what he is faced with now is vastly different from what he experienced on the field. It is especially so for black players who wear the Bok jersey.
“Pressure is one of those things that is always there in everything you do. Yes there was probably more pressure when I was on the field. You are in the public eye. The spotlight is on you and you don't want to let down your fans or the country. So the pressure is much more.
“I have a similar background to almost all the black players. You come from a tough background. You want to go out there and work hard and make sure you provide for your family. Every Saturday you have to produce the goods.
“For me now it is all about chasing greatness in the business and corporate world. People don't just open doors for you because of your name. They want to know 'what do you carry that is valuable?'
“Now you have to put on your thinking cap and maybe go back to school and get a qualification. That will at least give you a foundation.”
Speaking of foundations, the one that bears his moniker is likely to have its hands full now that he has joined Bok captain Siya Kolisi at talent management agency Roc Nation.
“I was very excited. It was very much through my good friend Siya. He's the one who spoke to me and then introduced me to the president Michael Yormark. He told them about my story and they did a bit of research. They realised I have a powerful story. Where I came from and where I am today. They decided they want me to be part of the family.”
What is clear is that Mtawarira wants to continue touching the sky. He has a clear vision of his future. “In five years I want to be an accomplished businessman. I would have wanted to complete my MBA. I would have wanted to do some impactful work across the continent, though my foundation, touching the lives of many young people. Elevating them to the next level. I want that as part of my legacy.
“That's why I signed with Roc Nation. This is one of the most exciting things, to take my brand to the next level and open doors to great things. That partnership with Roc Nation is going to take me to where I want to be.”