Cheetahs look ahead to Dubai Sevens, Paris 2024 Olympics Qualifiers

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Zimbabwe Rugby Union vice-president Losson Mtongwiza with former Cheetahs captain Kudzai Mashawi

Zimbabwe will continue its rebuilding in the wake of a forgettable Rugby Sevens World Cup campaign with local players set to feature in a series of domestic and regional competitions ahead of the Dubai Sevens in December and next year’s qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The Cheetahs, as the national rugby sevens is affectionately known, are expected to return to international competition on the weekend of October 14 to 16 when they feature in the popular Safari Sevens in Nairobi.

The Kenya tour will be their first international assignment since the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, where they finished 23rd out of 24 teams.

In an effort to ensure that local players continue to get some valuable game time in the shorter version of the game, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has organised a packed schedule of sevens competitions culminating in the Zambezi Challenge in November.

“It’s important that we continue to grow the team both physically for the team that played in World Cup and by opening up competition and bringing in new faces,” Zimbabwe Rugby Union vice-president Losson Mtongwiza told ZimSportLive in an interview this week.

“The Safari 7s will certainly help in encouraging competition and will allow the coaches to continue to build the team. Playing at the Safari 7s and then coming back home for the summer series and the Zambezi Challenge is the ideal pathway for our next major tournament at the Dubai 7s. We also have Olympic qualifiers in 2023 and it’s imperative that we can get a few tournaments under our belts before that major qualifier,” he said.

Action will get underway this weekend with the Paramount Garments 7s Tournament which includes three rounds of competition starting this weekend at Harare Sports Club.

Cheetahs players celebrate after scoring a try at the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town

The same venue will also host the second round of the competition on October 8 while the third and final round of the Paramount Garments 7s Tournament will be played at Old Georgians Sports Club on October 15.

Up next will be the Safari Sevens in Kenya followed by the Isuzu Sevens which features two rounds slated for October 22 and November 5 at Old Georgians.

The Sable Chickens Summer Series has been slated for November 12 at Harare Sports Club, before the big one, the Zambezi Sevens Challenge to be played at the same venue a week later.

The upcoming tournaments will give Cheetahs head coach Graham Kaulback an opportunity to fuse new players in his squad which found the going tough during the World Cup in Cape Town.

Kaulback has hinted at fusing some players who were part of the Zimbabwe Under-20 side which had a very successful year after winning the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy in Kenya and finishing as runners-ups in the highly competitive World Rugby U20s Canada Conference.

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