NATIONAL women’s sevens rugby team coach Abigail Kawonza is confident of achieving their target to become the second best-ranked team on the continent behind neighbours South Africa.
Kawonza, who has been a driving force behind the growth of women’s rugby in the country, was retained as the women’s Sevens coach with Bulawayo-based George Mukorera being appointed the women’s XVs coach.
Affectionately known as the Lady Cheetahs, the national women’s sevens side is currently ranked fourth on the continent behind neighbours South Africa while Kenya and Tunisia are second and third respectively.
“The director of rugby (ZRU director of rugby Brighton Chivandire) has given us a task to become at least second in Africa. Right now we are sitting in fourth position,” Kawonza said soon after her confirmation as Lady Cheetahs coach on Tuesday.
“We are grateful about the foundation that has been set especially in the schools and we are confident that is going to help us achieve that goal.
“Qualifying for Rio 2016 will be a great thing, but just getting the women’s rugby to be amongst the top teams in Africa will be an achievement as well,” Kawonza said.
After finishing fourth at last year’s Africa’s Women Sevens Rugby tournament, the Lady Cheetahs will be hoping for a better show at this year’s tournament as it acts as the qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Kawonza-coached side will lock horns with South Africa, Kenya, Tunisia, Uganda, Madagascar, Botswana, Senegal, Namibia and Morocco at the regional tournament set for September 26-27 in South Africa.
Women’s rugby has grown in popularity over the last decade as evidenced by the increase in the number of girls taking up the sport at local schools.
Last year there was an increase in the number of girls’ school teams taking part in competitive tournaments such as the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival held in the capital and the National Girls Rugby Tournament held in Bulawayo.