THIS week, World Ruby, the sport’s global governing body, triggered a flurry of nostalgia after honouring Zimbabwe by naming their try against Ireland at the 1991 World Cup as one of the “great end-to-end tries” in the tournament’s history.
The fabulous team effort was finished off by flanker Brendan Dawson, who is currently in his second spell as Zimbabwe’s coach and has been tasked with guiding the Sables back to the World Cup for the first time since that 1991 edition in Britain and France.
Zimbabwe lost the match heavily 55-11 at Ireland’s Lansdowne Road, one of the most famous stadiums in the sport, but the African team won the admiration of a global audience with a brave performance against a world-class Irish side before a capacity crowd of 40 000.
World Rugby took to social media this week and posted a video of the try, a popular post with rugby fans around the world.
Scorer Dawson, now 52, rounded off after good work by gifted scrumhalf Andy Ferreira and five other teammates. He said the try was the highlight of his playing career.
“It was an amazing time of our lives, playing at the highest stage of everybody’s rugby career, the World Cup,” Dawson told IndependentSport.
“We were very blessed to have been there, very lucky to be able to perform at the highest level of the game. It was really great to be there and obviously playing Ireland at Lansdowne Road in front of a full house was amazing. The atmosphere was phenomenal, the game was going really well. It was a tough game of rugby. The try came out after (hooker) Brian Beattie secured the ball down in our 22 area, and we formed a ruck that went over and Andy Ferreira, probably one of the best magicians of rugby that I have been fortunate to play with and to be captained by, started it off and he went, I think, a good 30 or 35 metres up the field, dummying everybody.
Everybody was fooled by his moves: wanting to pass, not wanting to pass. Everybody was confused. I think he fed off to (left winger) Dave Walters, who then fed off to (right winger) Craig Brown who went the length of the field on the side. I think Craig passed inside to (tight-head prop) Adrian Garvey and Garvs passed on to me and then I obviously went round the fullback and the fullback fell down and I went on to score the try. I mean, yeah, greatest moment of any rugby career, probably the highlight of my rugby career. We were very blessed to be there. What a great effort and great time for us.”
Zimbabwe was the only African team in that World Cup tournament, as had also been the case in the inaugural edition four years earlier in 1987. The Sables have not played in the World Cup ever since, although Bulawayo-born Garvey would later feature in the 1999 edition in the United Kingdom after switching international allegiance to South Africa.