The 2013 Rugby World Cup qualifiers will see Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar, Tunisia, Morocco and Ivory Coast battling for the single remaining slot reserved for Africa in Tunisia at the end of September.
The other two slots have been taken by holders South Africa with Kenya, a core team taking the other. In England, the Cheetahs, who were missing influential players such as Manasah Sita and Wesley Mbanje through injury, recovered from their dreadful outing at the Scotland Sevens Series where they lost all their games.
They narrowly lost 19-12 to Wales in one of their pool C matches and shocked heavyweights Frances 19-17 in the Bowl quarter final.
In other Pool matches, Zimbabwe had lost 29-0 to Fiji and 38-0 to fast improving Spain. Though they lost to Fiji in England, the loss was a bit respectful compared to the Scotland Sevens Series where the Cheetahs succumbed to a 40-0 drubbing at the hands of the same opponents.
Team manager Bruce Hobson said the team has to maintain the standards they have set in order to ensure qualification for the World Cup to be hosted by Russia.
“We have had the privilege of playing in international tournaments such as the Sevens Series and there is a huge gulf between these tournaments and regional ones. The team is still a work in progress as we are bringing in young players as we look into the future,” he said.
“In England we managed to beat France and also narrowly lost to Wales. Injuries to Wes Mbanje and Sita also affected us very much.”
The Cheetahs brand committee chairperson Donald Mangenje said weather patterns in Europe might also have played a part in the team’s performance in the Scotland leg. Zimbabwe would have avoided playing in the 2013 World Cup qualifiers had they got core status at the Hong Kong Sevens Series.