South African Springbok star Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira will be moving to the USA where he has signed a one-year contract with Washington’s brand new Major League Rugby franchise, Old Glory. He’s not doing it for the money… but to boost rugby in the States and help mentor young African Americans.
Mtawarira confirmed the move in a couple of tweets, saying: “I’m excited and look forward to joining my new teammates and adding value to my new franchise both on and off the field. I believe this opportunity will allow me to mentor the rugby youth in D.C… and help (in my small way) to grow the game in America.”
His salary (a maximum of $45,000/year) will be a lot less than he could’ve earned elsewhere. According to the Washington Post, a professional rugby contract in England or France can earn a player around $800,000! But Mtawarira – who was recently part of the winning team at the Rugby World Cup in Japan – isn’t motivated by money right now. (He’s earned quite a bit already!)
The 34-year-old revealed on Thursday that he’s been attracted to Washington by the “opportunity to work with various youths from different backgrounds, and being an Ambassador for Washington Youth Rugby and Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (the largest rugby academy in the US) will allow me to do that.”
Mtawarira was convinced to make the move earlier this month when two Washington business executives invited him to DC, according to the Washington Post, in “hopes that someone of his stature could help propel the sport into the spotlight in the United States”. At the moment rugby in the US is just a niche sport.
The businessmen arranged for Mtawarira to meet with the team (which had never played a game) and were delighted when Mtawarira, who was pleasantly surprised by Washington’s restaurants and apartments, said yes.
Mtawarira said in an interview: “I want to go to a place where I can make a meaningful impact, and from what I heard, there’s a lot of African American kids in D.C. I want to come out and be a role model and teach them a lot about my game.”
He said “at this point in my career, I want to contribute to rugby becoming a force in the U.S… I sacrificed a lot of money… but this will help my legacy.”
One of the co-owners of the franchise said signing Mtawarira is a “huge deal” and a “game-changer for our league”.
The co-owner said Mtawarira wanted something different – to live abroad, further his business interests in security and real estate, and to expand rugby in the US market where it’s like a “sleeping giant”.
The South African rugby player thanked the owners, coach and Old Glory DC organisation on Twitter, “for making this process easy for my family and I. #GloryAwaits.”
I’m excited and look forward to joining my new teammates and adding value to my new franchise both on and off the field. I believe this opportunity will allow me to mentor the rugby youth in D.C .. pic.twitter.com/D4bxTtrSPV
— Tendai Mtawarira (@Beast_TM) December 18, 2019
One of the things that attracted me to @OldGloryDC was the opportunity to work with various youths from different backgrounds and being an Ambassador for Washington Youth Rugby and @EagleImpactAcad will allow me to do that.
EIRA are the largest rugby Academy in the USA. pic.twitter.com/XLKmAD2paP
— Tendai Mtawarira (@Beast_TM) December 19, 2019
Struggling for words 😭 just really grateful! 12 years of hard work finally paying off 🤯
Thank you Lord, thank you South Africa 🇿🇦❤️☺️🙏🏾 🏆 pic.twitter.com/LUwB3ZnIU4
— Tendai Mtawarira (@Beast_TM) November 2, 2019