BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE’S national rugby sevens team have qualified for their third successive Rugby World Cup after finishing second at the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens tournament in Uganda on Sunday.
The 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens will be played from September 9-11 at the Cape Town Stadium in South Africa.
The Cheetahs needed to finish in the top three of the competition to book their ticket to the premier stand-alone international rugby sevens competition outside the Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe’s new-look squad showed remarkable fighting spirit to bounce back and reach the final of the continental qualifier after getting their campaign off to a horror start with a shocking loss to rank outsiders Burkina Faso on Saturday.
In the end, they came up short in the final after losing 28-0 in the final to hosts Uganda, who were cheered on by a boisterous home crowd at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala.
Kenya completed the podium after beating Zambia, 19-12, in the bronze medal match.
Zimbabwe went into the final having already booked their World Cup berth after they defeated neighbours Zambia 26-17 in the first semi-final.
The second-place finish would also have been enough for the Cheetahs to qualify for the Commonwealth Games slated for July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham, England but the slot will be awarded to fourth-placed Zambia as Zimbabwe is not a member of the association.
Their focus will, however, be on the Rugby World Cup Sevens, where they will be making their sixth appearance after securing qualification in 1997, 2001, 2009, 2013 and 2018.
The Cheetahs’ qualification capped off a successful month for Zimbabwean rugby after the national Under-20 team was crowned continental champions last Sunday.