Blessed with electrifying pace and an eye for the gap, the “Zimbabwe Express” as he is affectionately known in New Zealand, has represented Hawkes Bay in the NPC (Air New Zealand Cup now the ITM Cup) along with well known teammates like All Blacks’ Corry Jane, and more recently Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford. He also has several caps for the Sables. Kyros Rugby (KR) recently interviewed the winger, who is still playing Premier Grade Club Rugby in New Zealand. Excerpts:
KR: As a sprog at Churchill all I heard was Karl Mudzamba, who was your best rugby player in high school?
KM: I’d have to say TJ Madamombe was up there, he was ahead of the times, very powerful, a very, very good defender. He was lightning quick, had a great fend and had an eye for the gap. I played with him at Churchill when we were Under 13 and then he moved to Milton. We however reunited at Old Miltonians along with a host of other competent players. Good times those were.
KR: I am always fascinated about how the journey started, when did you start to take rugby serious and why?
KM: Incidentally I love football, always have and quite possibly could have pursued it. We moved from Shurugwi to Chakari when I was noine and I enrolled at Bryden in Chegutu and was horrified to discover they had no football. Up until that stage I had only watched rugby on TV and didn’t understand the rules much. I was just told to catch the ball and run as fast as I could for the line. It’s been rugby ever since. When I joined OMs I learnt more in three months than I had in the previous years I’d played the game. OMs had Brendan Dawson, Tendai Tabvuma, Naboth Mujaji, Dave Walters, Reon Van Der Merwe, Brian Beattie, Aaron Jani and a few others as the senior players, all eager to teach eager young players like myself at the time. It was infectious; I really didn’t understand the science behind the game till then, that’s the conditioning side of it, as well as the skills training. I mean, I still learn to stuff to this day but I’d never really had such knowledge around me till then. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, I learnt to have self belief for a change, something I seriously lacked in high school.
KR: What makes Karl a special player on the park?
KM: I was evasive and could run. I had to because when I was younger I was pretty slight, only 80kgs or so but I managed to address that as I got older so I became more physical……but definitely I had speed.
KR: What has been your rugby’s proudest moment?
KM: There’s a few, qualifying for the Sevens World Cup in 2000, beating South Africa in Dubai in 2000, playing for Zimbabwe, winning the championship with OMs, winning the NPC with Hawkes Bay and winning the Hawkes Bay club championship with my club team Napier Pirates for the first time in 82 years.
KR: Where is Karl now, and what is next for the big fella?
KM: I live in New Zealand, have had a great ride playing rugby, made many friends, rugby is pretty much slowing down for me, at least the serious stuff but I’d not trade my experiences for anything. I’m advancing my career outside the game which is working out nicely. I want to help out at home some day, that’s the long term goal.
KR: Tell us anything about yourself that the fans do not know?
KM: I used to play first five eighth in high school…sorry, that’s flyhalf!
KR: Any word of advice to younger players?
KM: Self-belief comes from hard work…and keep working on basic skills every day, you can never practice enough.
KR: Can we expect anymore (rugby or business) surprises from you?
KM: I don’t think so, I’m really not out there, but I’m happy to have a beer and a good company.
KR: After all is said and done are you going to stay in rugby in some capacity, maybe as a coach or director?
KM: I don’t know if I’ll coach yet, it’s a time thing. I’d only do it if I had the time.
KR: how can Zim rugby grow to become an African powerhouse?
KM: We lack knowledge of the game; lately the game has become more scientific. The lack of money doesn’t help too because it costs money to run the game properly. To become a powerhouse we need to teach kids skills at an early age, that’s what happens here in NZ. Kids are out every freezing cold Saturday morning playing for their clubs. We don’t even have that with football at home. Maybe that’s my calling? At home a lot of club players lack basic catching and passing skills, tackling etc. If that stuff can be taught early then the game would improve tremendously. But it has all to do with money and direction from the top.
KR: What can we do as fans or players to help Zim rugby grow?
KM: Keep playing the game and supporting it.
KR: Are we ever going to see you in Zim colors again??
KM: Not in a playing capacity, it’s time for others to carry that mantle.
KR: Thank you for your time, and good luck with the rest of your season! — kyrosrugby.com