Zimbabwe’s Sevens Rugby team lived up to their billing as one of the continent’s most consistent Sevens sides after qualifying for next year’s IRB Sevens Rugby World Cup in Russia during a regional qualifying tournament in Morocco at the weekend.
Report by Daniel Nhakaniso Sports Reporter
The Cheetahs, as the team is known affectionately, booked their place for the global showpiece after beating Nigeria 19-14 in the semi-finals of the regional qualifying tournament at the Bourgogne Stadium in Rabat, Morocco.
Qualification did not, however, come on a silver platter for the Cheetahs as they were pushed all the way by a resolute Nigeria side which comprised of players who ply their trade in England.
With two slots available, the Cheetahs qualified to join Tunisia who had also qualified for the final after beating Madagascar in the other semi-final.
The Cheetahs were expected to easily beat the Tunisians in the Cup final which was scheduled for late yesterday after having already beaten them 10-0 during the Pool stages on Saturday.
The Cheetahs will be making their fourth appearance at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Moscow having qualified for three previous editions in 1991, 2001 and 2009.
The country’s best-ever run at the tournament came during their last outing in Dubai three years ago where they won the Bowl Trophy. The Cheetahs and Tunisia join South Africa and Kenya as the continent’s representatives in Russia after the latter duo had both already qualified for the tournament due to their core status on the HSBC World Sevens Series.
Prior to yesterday’s knockout stages, the Cheetahs had safely negotiated the pool stages on Saturday unscathed to leave themselves just one victory away from booking their place at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow. The Cheetahs proved too strong for Ivory Coast and Namibia, beating both by a 26-7 scoreline, before a tougher battle in the Pool B decider with Tunisia, who they edged 10-0.
Meanwhile, the national women’s Sevens side, the Pangolins, were out of the running on the opening day after narrowly losing both their Pool matches to Uganda and Senegal on Saturday.
The Pangolins lost 12-5 to Uganda in their first match before narrowly going down 7-5 to Senegal in the second match.