Cheetahs rally to book World Cup slot

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Cheetahs players celebrate after qualifying for the Rugby World Cup Sevens to be staged in Cape Town in September

Zimbabwe’s rugby sevens side survived a big scare on the opening day of the Africa Men’s Sevens before rallying back to qualify for the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens after claiming the silver medal in the continental competition which ended on Sunday in Uganda.

The Cheetahs settled for a second-place finish in the Africa Men’s Sevens after losing 28-0 against the hosts Uganda in the final at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala on Sunday.

Kenya completed the podium after beating Zambia, 19-12, in the bronze medal match to also qualify for the World Cup Sevens slated for September 9-11 this year in South Africa.

Uganda and Zambia joined automatic qualifier Kenya at the 2022 Commonwealth Games slated for July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham, England as Zimbabwe is still suspended from Commonwealth after withdrawing in 2003.

The Cheetahs have qualified for the World Cup Sevens to be held in Cape Town in September

Zimbabwe went into the final having already booked their World Cup after they defeated neighbours Zambia 26-17 in the first semi-final.

The new look Cheetahs squad showed remarkable fighting spirit to bounce back and reach the final of the continental qualifier after getting their campaign off to a horror start with a shocking loss to rank outsiders Burkina Faso in the seeding match on Saturday.

The result meant the Cheetahs scrapped through to the group stages of the competition as the best losers.

After being drawn alongside Kenya, Madagascar and Namibia, the Cheetahs won two matches while narrowly losing to the East African giants to progress to the semi-finals where they defeated Zambia to book their World Cup ticket.

Their focus will however be on the Rugby World Cup Sevens, where they will be making their sixth appearance after securing qualification in 1997, 2001, 2009, 2013 and 2018.

The Cheetahs’ qualification capped off a successful month for Zimbabwean rugby after the national Under-20 team won the continental title after a victory over Namibia in Kenya last Sunday.

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