THE Zimbabwe women’s Sevens rugby team will be looking to improve their current ranking on the continent when they take part in the Africa Women’s Olympic qualifier to be held at the Barnard Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, from September 26 to 27.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Affectionately known as the Lady Cheetahs, Zimbabwe are currently ranked the fourth best team in Africa, but they could significantly improve their current standing on the continent with a solid display in South Africa.
National coach Abigail Kawonza said the success of schools girls’ rugby in the last two years should serve her charges well in their target to become the second-best team on the continent behind neighbours South Africa.
“Zimbabwe is currently ranked fourth in Africa, and with our team this year we are positive to come home with a good result. We have been coming up the ranks in the last three years and other countries see us as a team to be reckoned with. As we consider too the structures that have been put in place with a lot of strong players coming in from the schools, the successful continuity of the Lady Cheetahs is certain,” Kawonza said.
The Lady Cheetahs side were recently drawn in Pool A of the 10-nation tournament alongside hosts South Africa, Uganda, Namibia and Zambia, while Pool B comprises of Kenya, Tunisia, Madagascar Botswana and Senegal. The top team at the end of the competition will automatically qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio while the runners-up will then have to face another round of competitions.
Kawonza said the Lady Cheetahs organised a series of friendlies against Botswana and Zambia in July and August as part of a two-pronged selection process to come up with the best possible side in the build-up to the continental tournament.
The Lady Cheetahs won both matches against Botswana 25-15 and 35-12 in July before playing three games against Zambia which they comfortably won 38-0, 21-0 and 46-5.
“These games were to help the technical team trim down the squad and also gauge where we were and what we needed to work on before the big tournament,” Kawonza said.