At his peak, one of the world's best tight-head props, Adrian Garvey won his first cap for Zimbabwe (his country of birth) in the 1991 World Cup. Nicknamed "Turbo Prop", Garvey was the archetypal modern forward, combining deft handling skills and pace with ferocious scrummaging. His incredible speed for a tight forward is evidenced by the fact he played sevens rugby for Zimbabwe at the Sicily and Lisbon Sevens tournaments in 1993.
Later that same year he went to live in South Africa and won selection for the South African Barbarians tour of the United Kingdom. He debuted for Natal in 1994 and played for them until 1999, accruing an impressive 109 caps for the province. He played in two Currie Cup finals (winning in 1995 and 1996); and in the losing Super 10 (1994) and Super 12 (1996) finals (playing for the Sharks).
Several quality performances for Natal in his debut season caught the eye of the national selectors who had rarely before seen a tight forward so dominate games with a combination of size, strength and speed. After serving out a qualification period, Adrian was selected for the Springboks on their 1996 tour to Argentina, France and Wales. He won his first Springbok cap on 9th November 1996, aged 28, at tight-head prop against Argentina in Buenos Aires, and soon established himself as a key member of the Springbok front row.
Garvey's finest performance is often regarded to be during South Africa's 1997 victory over England at Twickenham, where his try in the 40th minute was the turning point of the match. Garvey decisively won his personal duel with England hero Jason Leonard in the front row, giving the England prop a horrendously torrid time in the scrum; as well as being a constant threat to the English defence at the fringes of rucks and mauls. Adrian was also a key member of the Springbok team that won the 1998 Tri-Nations and enjoyed a run of 17 victories in succession, equalling the world record. During that record-breaking run the Springboks defeated Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy.
Other career highlights were his two tries for the world famous Barbarians invitational team in 2001 against Wales at the Millennium Stadium; and a try for the Barbarians against England a week later. Garvey played his final match for the Springboks against Spain at Murrayfield during the 1999 Rugby World Cup. In his career he won 25 caps for Zimbabwe (1991-1994) scoring 4 tries; and played 28 tests for South Africa (1996-1999), scoring 4 tries with an impressive win record of 86%.
Garvey joined Newport Rugby Club in Wales, scoring a try on his debut in August 2000 against Bristol, and became an iconic figure for the Black and Ambers, memorably scoring a try in the Principality Cup Final win against Neath at the Millennium Stadium in May 2001 (Newport's first Cup final triumph for 24 years). He retired from rugby in 2004. Throughout his career Adrian Garvey was a credit to the teams he represented; an awesome player, who played hard but was always humble and courteous off the field, despite all his fantastic achievements.
- Malcolm Finch