DHL Stormers legend: Tonderai Chavhanga

PUBLISHED: April 8, 2024

DHL Stormers speedster Tonderai Chavhanga scorched defenders every chance he got and made it look easy.

Tonderai Chavhanga was 21 years old when he scored six tries on his Springbok debut, and he’s considered one of the fastest players of his era.

While Chavhanga’s career began with a few games in the Free State, it was in Cape Town where he kicked on, becoming one of DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers’ most exciting men to watch. It was during this time that he would also earn his four caps for the Springboks.

Chavhanga’s first touch in his DHL Stormers and Super Rugby career (on debut against the Brumbies) resulted in a try, and if you watch his highlights, that one touch was often all he needed. Chavhanga’s pace off the mark was immense, and his style was characterised by cutting up the first line of defence and pulling away (often for five points).

But what made Chavhanga such a joy to watch was the elegance and ease with which he carved up the opposition. Some players have the ability to make a contact sport look like athletics, and Chavhanga was of that rare breed.

Search ‘Tonderai Chavhanga flies through Chiefs defence’ on YouTube, and you will see what we mean. If you need other confirmation of just how quick he was, look no further than the Chiefs again, where Chavhanga – playing at fullback – gets the ball inside his own half and smokes ex-All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu to score a long-range try.

During his time in Cape Town between 2004 and 2009, Chavhanga scored 14 tries in 36 appearances for the DHL Stormers, and 16 tries in 40 games for DHL WP.

In 2010, the winger moved to the Emirates Lions, but struggled with injury and barely played over 18 months. Chavhanga then revived his career at the Newport Gwent Dragons and spent two seasons showcasing his special style up north, before returning to the Toyota Cheetahs only to get injured again and not appear for the season.

In 2014 Jake White, who had backed Chavhanga as a youngster for the Boks, signed him to the Hollywoodbets Sharks. Chavhanga managed to play and score during his time in Durban, but his term there was shorter than expected.

In an interview with SA Rugby magazine, Chavhanga said: “When you have a coach who backs you, it gives you confidence. I really didn’t think I would make it back. It was a great opportunity for me, but my knee never got better and I had to call it quits after two years.”

Sadly, a talent as unique as Chavhanga’s was brought to an end by injury, but a premature end does not detract from the wonderful exploits of his career. Chavhanga was the type of player who made you love watching the game, and for that, he will always be one of Cape Town’s rugby heroes.

Chavhanga’s DHL Stormers numbers:

36 – The number of matches he played for the DHL Stormers from 2004
to 2009

14 – The number of tries he scored for the DHL Stormers