BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) has led the tributes to the former Sables player Zivanai Dzinomurumbi who passed away at his farm in Driefontein, Masvingo on Thursday after a long illness, describing him as a brilliant player and legend of the local game.
Last year, the former Sables utility backline player was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the muscular organ to pump blood to the rest of the body, leading to fundraising initiatives led by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union leadership to cater for his medical bills.
Dzinomurumbi finally succumbed to high blood pressure at a hospital in Masvingo on Thursday at the age of 55.
Born in Masvingo April 26, 1966, Dzinomurumbi will fondly be remembered in Zimbabwean rugby history as one of the first black players to don the green and white hoops of the Sables.
Gifted with raw pace and an eye for the try line, Dzinomurumbi, popularly known as Super Ziv made his Sables debut at wing in a 1991 Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Ivory Coast in Harare on May 5, 1990.
Dzinomurumbi and other black players of his era had followed in the footsteps of the late Richard “The Black Diamond” Tsimba, the first black Zimbabwean to play for the Sables.
ZRU president Aaron Jani, who first played alongside the late Sables legend at Bulawayo rugby club Old Miltonians (OMs), described him as brilliant versatile player who
“I first met Super Ziv in 1988 on the rugby field as a school boy on holiday who had been invited to play for Old Miltonians Rugby Club (Oms). I would later join OMs club as a wing and Ziv would be my centre,” Jani said.
“He was such a brilliant player that you only had to follow him and he would create gaps for you to score tries. I think what made him such a great centre was that for national team games he would actually play as a wing , so he was very versatile.
Our relationship extended to off the field. Ziv was older than me so he always made sure he looked after me together with the other younger boys in the team like Victor Olonga. He gave us lifts to training and games and also opened up his flat to us for food and entertainment.
Jani said Dzinomurumbi was among the group of talented black players who paved the way for other players of color into the national into the Sables side.
“Ziv was part of a small elite group of black rugby players who were the pioneers in National Rugby. Ziv together with the likes of Julian Kamba, Richard Tsimba, Gilmore Kangai, Milton Nyala and many more, showed us that black people could play good rugby. They opened the doors for us. They were the legends of rugby. For us as the Rugby Community we are saddened by this loss and tears will never run dry. On behalf of ZRU, the Board, Executive and the Rugby Community at large, we say fly high Ziv your efforts and contribution to Rugby will forever be Cherished. Hamba Kahle!”
After his retirement from rugby Dzinomurumbi remained actively involved in giving back to the game by coaching his boyhood club OMs and Matabeleland senior men’s teams while he was also at one time a member of the Sables backroom staff.