Cheetahs eye World Cup comeback after series blow

Rugby team

ZIMBABWE’S rugby side will be aiming to overcome the disappointment of missing out on core status on the HSBC World Sevens Series at the Rugby Sevens World Cup which gets underway at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday.

The Cheetahs finished eighth out of 12 nations at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Santiago, Chile, recently.

Uruguay secured core status on the HSBC World Sevens Series after beating Georgia in the final.

After the below-par show in Chile, the Cheetahs have a good opportunity to show the progress they have made over the last few months in the showpiece event for the game’s shorter format which will run until Sunday.

The Kudzai Mahawi-captained side, who are seeded 23rd in the 24-team tournament will face 10th-seeded Canada in a pre-round of 16 fixtures on the opening day of the event September 9.

Canada is home to former Zimbabwe junior international Matthew Oworu.

The winners of the qualification round involving teams seeded from nine to 24 progress to the round of 16 where they will take on the top eight seeds, while the losers drop down into the consolation Bowl competition that will decide positions 17 to 24.

An upset win over Canada and the Cheetahs advance to face No. 7 France. The winner of that match could see Australia in the quarterfinals.

The Zimbabwe side finished 23rd out of 24 teams at the last Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018 in San Francisco. Their best result was a 17th-place finish in 2009.

Hosts South Africa are top seeds in men’s tournament following a remarkable 36-match winning streak which saw them win six rounds of the HSBC World Series in a row last season.

However, they will face stiff competition from Australia and double Olympic champions Fiji who are seeded second and third respectively. New Zealand are the reigning men’s champions and are seeded fifth coming into the event.

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs, who have been in South Africa since Tuesday last week hosted a fundraising event in Cape Town.

The fundraising event provided an opportunity for Zimbabwean fans in Cape Town to interact with the players and technical team members, with the main goal of raising funds to support the team.

Zimbabwe will be making their sixth appearance at the Rugby World Cup Sevens since making their debut at the 1997 edition of the tournament held in Hong Kong.

Zimbabwe Cheetahs squad: Kudzai Mashawi (captain), Godfrey Magaramombe, Keegan Cooke, Munopa Muneta, Tapiwa Mulenga, Jafnos Chiwanza, Carlos Matematema, Ryan Musumhi, Shingirai Katsvere, Sam Phiri, Munesu Muneta, Nigel Tinarwo.

Non-travelling reserves: Jerry Jaravaza, Pride Nyameni, Tadius Dzandiwandira

Head coach: Graham Kaulback

Assistant coach: Ricky Chirengende

Team manager: Tafadzwa Mhende

Physiotherapist: Margaret Gibson

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