ZIMBABWE Under-20 rugby captain Sam Phiri took a massive step towards realising his goal of playing professional rugby in South Africa after being recently offered a contract at the prestigious Western Province Rugby Institute.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
A product of Falcon College in Esigodini, Phiri spent last season at the Western Province Rugby Academy (WPRA), where he showed enough potential to be offered a contract at the Western Province Rugby Institute in 2017.
Confirming Phiri’s move, WPRA described the 18-year-old former Young Sables skipper as one of the best wings they have produced in recent years.
“Sam Phiri has become one of the best wings produced at the WPRA and was rewarded by being capped by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union U20 and also received recognition from the Western Province Rugby Institute having been offered a contract in their 2017 squad,” WPRA said.
A powerfully-built young player blessed with good hands, deft touch, explosive pace and renowned finishing prowess, Phiri, who also excelled as a cricketer at Falcon, has made tremendous progress during his time in the Western Cape.
The move to the Western Province Rugby Institute will further aid his development as it will see him together with other identified young players embarking on a 10-month intensive rugby course, which also includes an academic programme from next month.
The Western Province Rugby Institute, situated in Stellenbosch, is a top-class facility that has in recent years consistently produced quality young players who have gone on to play Super Rugby for a number of franchises in South Africa, most notably, Stormers.
The first Springbok to come out of the institute was Stormers inside centre Juan de Jongh while 2015 Rugby World Cup Springboks, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi, are also graduates of the top-level rugby programme which last year celebrated its 10th year of existence.
Western Province is fast becoming a breeding ground for Zimbabwean talent with highly-rated flank Tapiwa Tsomondo cutting his teeth in Cape Town before his move to the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria last year.
Others such as scrumhalf Kuzivakwashe Kazembe and loose forward Alva Junior Senderayi, prop Jeff Makoni and England-based Aiden Burnett were also groomed at the WPRA before taking their talents elsewhere.