Cheetahs eye IRB core status

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Still basking in the glory of winning the Spar International Sevens tournament, the Zimbabwe rugby team has shifted their attention to Hong Kong where they would be gunning for core status on the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens World Series.

The Cheetahs warmed up for the crucial tournament with an impressive display in their home tournament, beating a strong South Africa Sevens Academy and the SA Buffaloes 24-14 in the final.The Hong Kong Sevens, round six of the IRB series which will be played from March 23-25 at the Hong Kong Stadium, will double up as the 2012 IRB Sevens World Series core team qualifier.

The Cheetahs are in Pool E together with Canada, Spain and debutants Philippines, in a 12-team tournament which will see the two finalists and the winner of the third and fourth play-off earning core team status on the 2012-2013 Series.

The South African Sevens national team, affectionately known as the “Blitzbokke” and Kenya, are currently the only two teams on the continent with core status. Bruce Hobson, Cheetahs’ team manager, told NewsDay Sport the Spar International tournament, had given his squad the ideal preparation for the Hong Kong Sevens.

“I have always felt that in previous years we have not done well in Hong Kong because most of our players would be coming from the offseason. This year will, however, be different because our guys are in great shape and we will do our best to ensure we give ourselves a chance of attaining core status.

“During the Spar International tournament we managed to beat a strong SA Sevens Academy team which had five players who have played in the Springbok Sevens team. The South African Buffaloes team, which we beat in the final, was also a very physical side which reminds me a lot about Canada, one of our opponents in Hong Kong,” said Hobson.