Face to Face with Brendon Mandivenga

Zimbabwe’s fly-half and full-back at 2012’s Under18 Craven Week speaks to Chenjerai Katanda of FrontrowZim. In this interview the talented Peterhouse Boys student speaks about his family and his school’s prospects in the coming schools super rugby season. Brandon also speaks about the height of his rugby career so far, spending some time with the team at Leicester Academy in England.

FrontrowZim: Brendon tell me more about yourself and your family life.
Brendon: We are a family of five, I stay with my mum and dad, my brothers and a younger sister who is ten years old. I’ve been in boarding since grade two at Springvale House.

FrontrowZim: What are your earliest memories of rugby?
Brendon: I was about eight years old playing rugby at Springvale House.

FrontrowZim: How would you define your experience of playing junior school rugby?
Brendon: It was an interesting learning experience. I was in one of the stronger teams and we went unbeaten the first year and we lost a couple of games in the second. I made the provincial team in Grade 6. Started at centre for that provincial side then moved to wing.

FrontrowZim: So you have always been a utility back?
Brendon: Yes, I can play anywhere in the back-line.

FrontrowZim: But were have you settled now?
Brendon: I have settled at the pivot but may move to full-back, coach knows best.

FrontrowZim: Tell me about your progression to first team at Peterhouse Boys, some guys skip some age groups and so fourth. How was it like your for you?
Brendon: I went through all the junior age groups, U14, U15 and U16 then moved to first team when I was in Form Four. There was no Under17 age group for us so we all had to go to the senior age group.

FrontrowZim: Being the rookie on the 1st team, how did that go?
Brendon: To be honest, It was quite a scary feeling. We played at Cottco and I got injured so I missed the first two games of the season and when I came back I started at fly-half against Churchill. I was quite nervous, I didn’t make the right moves and things just didn’t go as well as I thought. We lost 25-34 I think.

FrontrowZim: And on your stint in England at Leicester Tigers. Your experiences there?`
Brendon: I was scouted when we went on tour in last year in September. Our coach was very supportive  so I found myself going there. It was great experience  all the guys over at Leicester are friendly. First game, I came on as a sub at wing against Loughborough University, then moved to centre and I scored a try. The second game was against Leeds, I started at full-back and was taken off about 60 minutes into the game. Unfortunately the third game was cancelled due to rain.

FrontrowZim: Overall what would you say you learnt from that whole experience?
Brendon: Their training sessions  are intensive, so the I learnt to work hard.

Brendon clears his team of the Saints's threat in last encounter of the 2012 schools rugby season.
Brendon clears his team of the Saints’s threat in the last encounter of the 2012 schools rugby season.

FrontrowZim: In your own opinion how do you think Zimbabwean Rugby fares alongside the rugby you were exposed to in the United Kingdom?
Brendon: The rugby there is more physical and really fast paced compared to ours here.

FrontrowZim: Do you think we will be able to step up our game and play at their level or better?
Brendon: Yes we can but I think we need to set up academies and spend more time working towards it. Like their academies there are on a full time basis.

FrontrowZim: Looking forward, what do you hope to achieve in the short and long term?
Brendon: I am probably looking at going back to Leicester  in September and start university. I hope to play rugby for the University and maybe the Leicester Academy as well while I pursue a degree in sports management. In the long-term maybe play for the senior Leicester squad.

FrontrowZim: As for the coming schools rugby season what are your expectations?
Brendon: Well I really want it to be a successful season for Peterhouse Boys. As a team I really think we will have a strong and successful season.

FrontrowZim: Support system wise who would you say inspires you to go forward and achieve more?
Brendon: Our coach is my greatest inspiration, he always makes sure everything is going well in my sport and other aspects of life as well, he is always there.

FrontrowZim: What role do your parents and siblings play in supporting your sporting activities?
Brendon: My family is very supportive, most of this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for them. Like my parents have paid for all my tours.

FrontrowZim: Moving on to our signature question, what is your take on discipline in youth sports?
Brendon: It is a very important aspect as it is vital for the building up of a good character. So I think it needs constant monitoring to make sure we are all on the right track.

FrontrowZim: So if you were given three options – having a great coach, having great discipline and unmatched talent which two would you choose?
Brendon: I think a disciplined athlete under a great coach would go places, so it has to be those two.