IRB Hall of Fame
IRB Hall of Fame – Induction No.54 – Richard Utete Tsimba (1965-2000) (Chaminuka RFC, Mashonaland and Zimbabwe) and Kennedy Chiedza Tsimba (1974-) (Old Hararians, Bath RFC, Old Georgians, Free State Cheetahs, Blue Bulls and Zimbabwe)
– Born: 9 July 1965 in Salisbury (at the time Rhodesia).
– Died: 30 April 2000 in a car accident.
– Family: The brothers are two of the six children of businessman Arthur Phillip Tsimba and his wife Freda Lucy Tsimba. Two of the six, the oldest brother Stephen and Richard have passed away, while Kennedy is the youngest of the remaining four, which include sisters Susan and Rosemary and brother Martin. He married Cleopatra Tsimba and they had three daughters Tadiwa, Rutendo and Nyasha.
– Education: Primary School, St Michaels Harare, Springvale School, Peterhouse School, Apprenticeship with Air Zimbabwe
– Nickname: Black Diamond
– Other sports: Golf (semi-pro)
– Hobbies: Motorsport
– Born: 23 July 1974 in Makoni, Zimbabwe.
– Family: The brothers are two of the six children of businessman Arthur Phillip Tsimba and his wife Freda Lucy Tsimba. Two of the six, the oldest brother Stephen and Richard have passed away, while Kennedy is the youngest of the remaining four, which include sisters Susan and Rosemary and brother Martin. He has two daughters, Kayala and Gabriella.
– Education: Ruzawi Primary, Eagles Vale, Prince Edward, Harare; Slough College (UK) Diploma in Business Management
– Nickname: Kenny, T-Time
– Other sports: Basketball and volleyball (school and provincial)
– Hobbies: Collecting Indigenous musical instruments
– Other interests: TV producer and performing music artist/producer.
Richard was a commodity broker and owner of a haulage firm, while Kennedy was a professional rugby player between 1979 and 2009 before in 2011 becoming a director of rugby at Impala Rugby Club and Academy and Director for NGO ‘Rugby Without Borders SA’.
– He started playing at the age of 10 at Springvale School.
– Both brothers played for the school first XV, Richard at centre and Kennedy at fly half.
– He played club rugby for Chaminuka RFC between 1985 and 1987, and with him in the centre they became national champions in 1986. He also won the title twice with Old Georgians in 1990 and 1991.
– His talent did not go unnoticed and he was selected for Zimbabwe Under 19s and Under 20s.
– He also played for Mashonaland and for the ZRU President’s XV in 1986.
– Richard won the first of his 23 international caps against the Soviet Union in 1986 – a significant 26-19 win. He became the first black player to represent his country.
– Zimbabwe were one of the 16 countries invited to attend the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and were drawn in the same pool with France, Scotland and Romania. He injured his shoulder while diving to score a try against Romania in Zimbabwe’s opening match at Eden Park and played no further part in the tournament.
– After RWC 1987 he joined Belmont Shore in the USA where he played for two seasons, after which he returned to Zimbabwe to join Old Georgians in 1990.
– He made his last three appearances for Zimbabwe at RWC 1991, when he played against Ireland, Scotland and Japan.
– He retired from international rugby after RWC 1991.
– He began playing rugby at the age of 8 at Ruzawi Primary School in Harare.
– He played for Wasps Under 19 in England in 1994/95.
– He played club rugby for Old Hararians RFC in Harare in 1996.
– Played for Zimbabwe RWC Sevens 1997 in Hong Kong.
– Played for Zimbabwe Under 21s
– He made his international debut against Italy A in 1997. He retired the following year after the failed qualifying campaign for RWC 1999.
– Appointed captain for the 1998 Africa zone qualifying tournament in Casablanca in Morocco, becoming the first black player to captain Zimbabwe.
– Signed a professional contract with Bath RFC for two years in 1997 and was part of the squad that won the Heineken Cup in 1998.
– Just like his brother, he returned to Zimbabwe after his sojourn in Europe and joined Old Georgians in 1998.
– In 1999, he joined the Free State Cheetahs and Super 12 Cats. He played for the Cheetahs and Cats until 2005.
– He then joined the Blue Bulls and Bulls Super 14 side on a two year-contract.
– In 2008 he joined the Northern Free State Griffons for two years, playing in the Currie Cup and for the Cheetahs in the Super 14.
Kennedy was a technical advisor to the Cheetahs Super 14 side in 2009/10 and coach of Impala RFC from 2011 onwards. He is also director of rugby at Impala Rugby Club and Academy in Rustenburg, South Africa, and director of ‘Rugby Without Borders SA’.
Awards and Records
1986: BAT Player of the Year and Chaminuka RFC Player of the Year
1986: First black player to represent Zimbabwe
1987: Represented Zimbabwe in Rugby World Cup 1987 in New Zealand
1987: Nominated for best try of RWC 1987 against Romania
1987: Finalist of Zimbabwean Sportsperson of the Year
1988: Top try-scorer in the All Africa Games with 14 tries, scoring a Zimbabwe record of six tries against Nigeria
1991: Played at RWC 1991
1997: Rugby World Cup Sevens – ‘Nike’ Try of the day
1998: First black player to captain Zimbabwe’s national team
2000: Vodacom Cup Player of the Year, Vodacom Cup winner, nominated for South African Player of the Year, top points scorer in Vodacom Cup and Free State Sportsman of the Year
2002: Currie Cup Player of the Year, Free State Sportsman of the Year, Currie Cup top points scorer (228)
2003: Set a new South African record as the fastest player to reach 1,000 points in first class rugby and a record for highest points by a Free State player in a Currie Cup season (230)
2008: 1st Division Absa Currie Cup Player of the Year, 1st Division Currie Cup winners.
What he said
Kennedy: “I knew South African rugby had a reputation of being tough and physical, but I accepted the challenge – I always do better under pressure. Ray Mordt, the former Zimbabwean and Springbok winger suggested I go to Free State because their open style of running rugby suited my game.”
What they said
Peter White (journalist, New Zealand Herald online): “... at Eden Park, Romania and Zimbabwe made plenty of friends in a thrilling game. The highlight came from Zimbabwe centre Richard Tsimba, who made a slashing 45m break, capped off with an outrageous dive over the line. Sadly for him, he injured his shoulder in scoring and had to be replaced.”
Mohammed Allie (journalist, BBC Online – The King of Bloemfontein): “Such is the popularity of Zimbabwean international Kennedy Tsimba, fly half of the Free State Cheetahs provincial team that he is hardly able to walk around town without being stopped by fans for autographs or a chat about the weekend’s game.
Albert Marufu (journalist in Zimbabwe): “To rugby fans it is not easy to forget the exploits of the late Richard Tsimba, the man they called ‘The Black Diamond’. So good was Richard that he scored a first in local rugby by becoming the first black in the country to don the Sables jersey. Richard starred for Zimbabwe at the 1987 and 1991 World Cups when Zimbabwe rugby was at its peak. Then came ‘The King of Bloemfontein’, as Richard’s younger brother Kennedy is better known as. Despite playing a modest five Tests for Zimbabwe before turning his back on his fatherland in a foiled bid to play for the Springboks, Kennedy is a legend in local rugby. Once considered as the best fly half in the country, the 5ft 11inches player became the first black to captain the Sables in a glittering career that took him to England and South Africa.”
Harold Verster (President, Free State RU): “The way people support him is phenomenal. Kennedy was accepted by the white farmers in the area with open arms. Today he’s one of their biggest heroes ... If they phone us to get a speaker, someone to be present at their golf days or to open a store Kennedy is normally the player they request along with well-known Springbok players like Rassie Erasmus and Andre Venter.”
Enoch Mulchinjo (journalist in Zimbabwe): “He (Ken Tsimba) however came to prominence when he moved to South Africa where, at his peak, he was simply the best fly half in world rugby. Citizenship complications prevented him from playing for South Africa. He played Super 12 rugby for both the Cats and Bulls, producing many stellar performances. The dazzling fly half, known for his mesmerising kicking and vision, played his best rugby for the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs, breaking a Free State record for the most points scored in a season (228), a feat which earned him the Currie Cup Player of the Year award in 2002. ‘The King of Bloemfontein’ – as he was affectionately known – accumulated over 1,000 points during a five-year tenure at the franchise.”
Jos Robson (journalist, Rugby Legends SA website: “Former Zimbabwean rugby star Kennedy Tsimba – who also represented the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs in an illustrious rugby career – runs a community-based ‘Rugby without Borders’ programme, giving back to the game from which he earned many an accolade.”