By Brain Murandu
A GLIMMER of hope still flickers for Zimbabwe’s waning fortunes in rugby as the national sevens squad returned home on Wednesday from a tour of Europe with impressive results.
The Zimbabwe national sevens side, managed by Bruce Hobson, participated in the Benidorm International competition in Spain and came up with their tails high after reaching the semi-finals where they lost 14-19 to Costa Marful.
They accounted for Tunic 29-7, Wizards 37-0 and Belgium 45-5 in the pool stages. Zimbabwe edged Canoe 21-10 in the quarterfinals to book a place in the last four.
The squad is preparing for the Hong Kong 2005 World Cup qualifiers to be held in Zambia on June 26 and 27. Other teams to participate in the qualifiers are Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Madagascar, Botswana, Swaziland and the hosts.
The preparatory tour of Europe included a training camp in England. The squad also participated in the Amsterdam Rugby Sevens in the Netherlands and won four of the six matches they played.
Zimbabwe are likely to call foreign-based players such as Karl Mudzamba, now based in New Zealand, UK-based Tafadzwa Manyimo and South African-based Kennedy Tsimba for the qualifiers.
The Zimbabwe Rugby Union revived the sevens game last year after woeful performances by the 15s squad over a couple of years had seen the sport nearly collapsing.