The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE national sevens rugby coach, Gilbert Nyamutsamba feels the draw for the first of the two World Rugby Sevens Challenge Series in Chile is kind enough to his team.
The Cheetahs were drawn in Pool D together with Brazil, Mexico and host nation Chile for the tournament scheduled for 15 and 16 February. Nyamutsamba is aware that Chile, with home support will be the most difficult opponents in the group since the weather conditions will also suit them.
“Fair draw, without underestimating any team, we know Chile is going to be the toughest in the group, not only will they have home support, but I am sure because the tournament is on their backyard their preparation/ camp would be long and training at the same tournament, weather conditions are always an added advantage,’’ Nyamutsamba said.
Zimbabwe are among the teams that have been invited to participate in the two Challenger Series tournaments, with the second event to be held in Uruguay on 22 and 23 February. According to World Rugby, the best eight-placed teams from the Challenger Series teams as a result of combined points accumulated across the two events will qualify to Hong Kong to participate in the HSBC World Series Qualification Tournament. This will be held in conjunction with the Hong Kong leg of the Sevens Series from 3 to 5 April.
Nyamutsamba is planning a camp early next month that is subject to funds permitting with the final squad to be named on 9 February. Over the last few weeks, trials have been taking place in most parts of the country with local-based players getting an opportunity to be part of the Cheetahs.
The Cheetahs were last in action at the Rugby Africa’s Men’s Sevens staged in South Africa at the beginning of November last year where they finished third and missed out on automatic qualification for this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Zimbabwe still have a chance of heading to Japan since they are taking part in a final qualification tournament to be held in June where only one team out of 12 will book a place at the Olympics.