Cheetahs Qualify For 2018 Sevens World Cup

Mehluli Sibanda

ZIMBABWE booked their place at the 2018 Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco, United States of America despite losing 10-7 to Uganda in the Africa Cup men’s final played at Legends Rugby Grounds in Kampala on Saturday.

Besides the World Cup, the Gilbert Nyamutsamba Cheetahs will also have a shot at the Sevens World Series core status at the Hong Kong qualifier to be held from 6 to 8 April.

Zimbabwe and Uganda join automatic qualifiers, Kenya as well as South Africa as the African representatives at next year's tournament.

Nyamutsamba said he believes that they now not just a sevens rugby team as they will get to compete against the world's best at the 24-team World Cup. He paid tribute to his players, everyone who played a part behind the scenes and Delta Beverages who are the team sponsors through their Zambezi Lager brand.

“The real work has started, we are now not just a sevens rugby team, we are a team that will compete with the best 24 teams in the world and we have to leave a mark. I am truly honoured to lead a bunch of humble dedicated gentlemen that will give all they have for love and pride of the country,’’ Nyamutsamba said.

He was also in charge when the Cheetahs qualified for the last edition of the Sevens Rugby World Cup, held in 2013 in Russia.

World Cup qualification was guaranteed for the Hilton Mudariki led Cheetahs when they defeated Madagascar 21-10 in the semifinals to book a date with Uganda in the final.

Zimbabwe led the home team 7-0 going into the halftime break after Kenyan referee Victor Oduor awarded the Cheetahs a penalty try for a high tackle on wing Stephan Hunduza by Pius Ogena. Zimbabwe went all out in attack at the start of the second half but were left to rue the wasted try scoring opportunities when Uganda scored two tries to be crowned African champions for the second year in a row. James Odongo and Adrian Kasito were the try scorers for the Ugandans.

Against Madagascar, a blistering first half saw the versatile Ngoni Chibuwe, playing at centre this time around power his way over the line before Hunduza sold his opponent a dummy to sprint his way to the try line. Boyd Rouse booted in both conversions for Zimbabwe. Madagascar did fight back with two tries right at the end of the first half but the Cheetahs led 14-10. Zimbabwe slowed down the game in the second half and had their third try, prop Biselele Tshamala the scorer after a beautiful offload from Hunduza.

Madagascar, who defeated Zimbabwe 19-12 in the group stage on Friday were poor discipline wise as they first had a player shown a yellow card before another was sent off by South African referee Fhatuwani 'Rasta' Rasivhenge.

Earlier on in the day, Zimbabwe beat Tunisia 17-12 in the quarterfinals to book their place in the last four.

Zimbabwe Cheetahs squad: Biselele Tshamala, Lucky Sithole, Tapiwa Tsomondo, Stephan Hunduza, Ngoni Chibuwe, Shingirai Hlanguyo, Njabulo Ndlovu, Hilton Mudariki, Body Rouse, Mkhululi Ndlela, Nelson Madida

Coach: Gilbert Nyamutsamba

Team manager: Donald Mangenje

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