BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
A TOUGH test awaits Zimbabwe’s national rugby sevens side in their bid to book a ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games after they were drawn in Pool A alongside Ireland, Samoa, Tonga and Mexico for the upcoming World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco.
The draw was held in Monaco and broadcast online on World Rugby website and social media platforms as the Olympic qualification event draws closer.
The final qualifying tournament for the rescheduled Olympic Games will take place at the Stade Louis II in Monaco during the weekend of June 19 to 20.
The Cheetahs, as Zimbabwe’s sevens side is affectionately known, face a stern test of character with the top two teams from each pool progressing through to the knockout stages, culminating in the final with the winner booking their place at the Tokyo Games.
Pool B sees hosts France, Hong Kong, Chile, Uganda and Jamaica go head-to-head.
The Cheetahs continue to build towards June’s World Rugby Sevens Repechage at this weekend’s second leg of the Rugby Africa Solidarity Sevens Camp at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sports in South Africa.
Zimbabwe endured a tough return to competitive action for the first time in over a year in the opening leg of the Rugby Africa Solidarity Sevens Camp where Zimbabwe got an opportunity to compete against South Africa and Kenya, who have already qualified for the Olympic Games.
Other teams that are taking part in the camp include Uganda, South Africa’s Sevens Academy squad and the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport Sevens Academy team. Zimbabwe, who were under the tutelage of assistant coach Graham Kaulback in the absence of head coach Danny Hondo endured tough campaign in the two day tournament, managing just one win in five matches.
The Cheetahs suffered losses against Kenya (0-24), Stellenbosch Academy of Sport Sevens Academy (7-28) and South Africa (7-29) to finish the opening day of the tournament winless.
Zimbabwe suffered a disappointing 12-22 loss in their first match of day two before salvaging some lost pride by beating Stellenbosch Academy of Sport Sevens Academy24-19 in their final playoff encounter.
Despite the win in their final match its clear that the Stephan Hunduza-captained Cheetahs still have some work to do ahead of the Olympic qualifier and they will be hoping to put on an improved performance during the second leg of Rugby Africa Solidarity Camp this weekend.
This weekend’s matches will be the final opportunity for the technical team to assess the players before trimming their 15-man squad to the final 12 who will battle for the their ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe rugby sevens squad: Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Bisilele Tshamala, Nelson Madida, Riaan O’Nell, Mkululi Ndhlela, Godknows Mavara, Shingirai Katsvere, Stephen Hunduza, Boyd Rouse, Kudzai Mashawi, Ryan Magaramombe, Ryan Musumhi, Godfrey Muzanargwo, Sam Phiri and Rufaro Chakawera.
Head coach: Daniel Hondo
Assistant coach: Graham Kaulback
Manager: Keegan Benjamin Peter Cooke
Physiotherapist: Margaret Ruth Gibson
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