ZIMBABWE Sevens rugby team coach, Gilbert Nyamutsamba says his charges still have a lot of work to do, following their qualification for next year’s Sevens Rugby World Cup to be held in San Francisco, USA.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Zambezi Cheetahs booked a ticket to the global showpiece for the third successive tournament running despite losing 10-7 to Uganda in the final of the Rugby Africa Sevens tournament in Kampala on Saturday.
In addition to a World Cup berth, the Zambezi Cheetahs also secured a place at next year’s the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core status qualifier at the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens.
Nyamutsamba, however, says the Cheetahs will not rest on their laurels after the World Cup qualification and instead the coach believes that there is still a lot of work to be done by his team before the two important assignments next year.
“Now we can celebrate but the real work has started, and we now have to make sure we prepare adequately for both the World Cup and the Hong Kong Sevens next year,” he said.
The respected Sevens rugby tactician said their target was to make sure that they impress at the world stage rather than just making up numbers.
“We are now not just a sevens rugby team, we are a team that will compete with the best 24 teams in the world and we have to leave a mark at the big stage. All this was possible because we all came together as a nation with a common goal and hopefully we can do the same as we prepare for next year.”
Nyamutsamba said that his team’s success would not have been possible without the commitment shown by his players and the support of various stakeholders, including their main sponsors, Delta Beverages..
“We are very grateful to our sponsors Zambezi Lager and all those who worked hard behind the scenes to make sure we were adequately prepared for the Africa Cup. To the Sevens players that made the team and those that didn’t I am truly honoured to lead a bunch of humble dedicated gentlemen that will give all they have for love and pride of country. To all the rugby lovers and Zimbabweans as a whole, thank you for all the support,” he said.
Zimbabwe and Uganda went into the final match, with the World Cup tickets already in their pockets, as two finalists were guaranteed a spot at the world stage. But the two were focused on claiming the African title.
It was the Cranes, who needed a late try from hero, Adrian Kasito to seal a hard-fought come-back after Zimbabwe had capitalised on Puis Ogena’s yellow to score a penalty try for an early lead.
Nyamutsamba’s men seemed to have completed an upset in the hosts’ backyard in the final minutes of the game, but a breakthrough was realised by Kasito, who raced for the whitewash amid loud cheers.
Cheetahs captain, Hilton Mudariki said: “They did well to come back and congratulations to Uganda. My boys battled to the end and to go down that way is really tough. To qualify for the World Cup is massive, it means everything to us.”