ZIMBABWE’S ENGLAND BASED RUGBY PROFESSIONAL DON ARMAND JUST LOVES HIS HOME COUNTRY

Zimbabwe born rugby star Don Armand in Exeter Chiefs colours

As a proud Zimbabwean, he says he will never forget the country in his upbringing.
If you chat to people that have not been there they cannot understand what it is. I still have family in Zimbabwe and if you speak to many people, they will tell you how much I love Zim and my Twitter handle tells it all: it says, I Know What It Tastes Like.
He would like to help his home country Zimbabwe and it won’t be for his personal gain; a country where his father reportedly races pigeons.
I would still love to go back to Zim., he told a British newspaper.
I would like to have a positive impact on everyone, he said.I think there are many people doing some fantastic work and I would love to get involved in something.

Home is where the heart is for Armand

He believes there is so much that he could do including raising funds for charity or doing short videos to raise awareness.
Don started playing barefoot rugby at infant school in Zimbabwe, before getting the early importance of the sport at the age of 7 years. That was at a farm in Shamva, just outside Harare, and he says there was no proper rugby or sports available around.
Though his birth place is Harare, he spent the first two years of his life in Bulawayo.
We lived on that farm in Shamva until I was about 12 before we moved to SA. Thats where I grew up, he recalled.



Don has found success in professional rugby

His first years at school were through correspondence being taught by his grandmother at home on the farm. Then he went to Highlands Junior School in Harare but before he was to go St Georges College they unfortunately had to leave the country in December 2001 when he was 13.
With a family in both UK and Zimbabwe, he says there is a journey that one takes in life where a lot of people offer help to get involved in someones success.
He adds that the people from his past who have helped even if its the smallest role they have played have said how proud they are of what he has done.
Thats where he gets the most satisfaction and he said this is because a lot of people put in a lot of work and sacrifice and not always do they get rewarded. He would like to show a lot of gratitude for them.
His goal has been definitely to want consistency as a happy family, making sure they were well provided for or ensuring that they get what they need however not to spoil them.
Don’s kids are still very young and he makes sure to wake up and make a difference to them.
He has a few big career highlights and notes that obviously one of the biggest ones was making a debut for England.
Other highlights were winning the Rugby Premiership last year which he says was a massive highlight.
He said that some people can have very long careers and never do that. The above highlights were followed with first coming to Exeter Chiefs and winning major silverware.
Going back to South Africa it was when he won the Currie Cup with a team in Western Province for the first time.



He explained further, Also back then you can never forget with University of Cape Town first team when we won the Varsity Cup and a few years before that when I was under 20 in my first year at university we had an unbeaten season and won the league at UCT. So there were a lot of successes there.
But probably one nice big career highlight was when we had a lock that went up and played for SA Schools and I had to take his place and had about 50/60 minutes debut when he came off the bench because he had been late and I had made one good run through the middle and I got subbed off at end of the game.
Don mentioned challenges faced including a whole lot of competition in his work as well as other clubs that they compete with.
People are constantly comparing you and you must make sure you are always at your best.
It comes with more of a challenge when you really tired or your body is a bit sore because this is a physically demanding game and you have to make sure that every week you produce the same if not better than the previous week.
We all know how it is to have a bit of a slump and have a bit of a lazy week or day or morning or whatever it is. The reality is, if you have too many of those you wont be at your best. Thats a massive challenge in my work, he said.
Right now he believes he is really enjoying it there at Exeter, which has got to do with some of the better weather even though its a bit wetter. But he says nothing will obviously come close to Zimbabwe’s sun.
In the next 5 years he would like to still be playing rugby and carry on enjoying what he loves doing.
Born 23 September 1988, in Harare, he moved to South Africa and then over to England, to continue playing the sport as a flanker for England Rugby Union side Exeter Chiefs. He has been with the rugby club since then and says he is enjoying it all.
For me there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that I managed to get an England debut, said Don, who in March this year was named by Eddie Jones to feature in England’s final Six Nations game against Ireland.
He is a big believer in that whatever he does, he gives 100 percent commitment and loves it.
Who knows, he could be giving back 100 percent to Zimbabwe in the near future!

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