Rugby star, Tendai Mtawarira has returned to school studying for an MBA from the comfort of his home in Durban – as the inaugural recipient of a special scholarship from Henley Business School Africa on a programme designed to help sports icons successfully transition from the change room to the boardroom.

He said :”It was something that I always thought about while I was playing rugby, that eventually I want to get back to studying. I did study initially prior to my rugby career taking off. I did a BComm in marketing, I didn’t complete it so it was at the back of my mind that when I stopped playing rugby I wanted to get back to my academics and get all the qualifications that I need to be successful in the business world.

It’s pretty challenging. I think I got a shock to my system this week when we did our first week of lectures. I’m basically just working on my concentration and my study skills. A lot of good people at the business school are helping us. They make everything easy and everything is available for us on the school portal. So you can just get there and get all the information, all your assignments and then obviously the lectures on Zoom. So we pretty much get everything that we would have in a classroom. It does help but it’s quite a mighty big challenge ahead of me.”

“I might possibly go back to Old Glory DC next year to play and to coach, we are still talking about it. This year was supposed to be my final season,” says the 117-cap veteran, but for now though he’s focusing on his business studies.

He was alerted to Henley by an old school friend Shingi Jena, who lives in the UK, who told hm about the MBA programme. Mtawarira was busy focussing on preparing for the world cup, but made time to visit Henley Africa’s campus.

“I got introduced to Jon (Foster-Pedley, Henley Africa’s dean and director), who was very accommodating and answered all my questions. Then and there the decision was made to enrol. I’m planning to use the one year Post Graduate Diploma in management which I am enrolled for as my stepping stone to the global triple accredited MBA ultimately,” Mtawarira says.

“To be honest, I think the key is to plan beforehand. I was very fortunate to have met Wahl Bartmann at the Sharks who became a mentor on the field and later off when I joined his company Fidelity Security nine years ago.

“Today, I’m on the board of directors and I’m a shareholder too, so when the day came to hang up my boots for the last time, I already knew what I was walking into.”

“Most sports stars struggle with the transition from ‘retirement’ from what they love at an age when most of their peers are only starting to see their corporate careers take off.

“Tendai is far more astute, the opportunity to study at Henley just allows us to help him take this career in jacket and tie to the same heights he enjoyed wearing the green and gold.”