Zimbabwe’s women rugby sevens team avoided the wooden spoon in the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifier with a deserved 10-0 victory over Ghana in their seventh and eighth-place play-off match in Tunisia on Sunday.
The Lady Cheetahs went into the two-day competition vying for the single direct slot to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The dream however went up in smoke on the opening day following defeats in their Group A matches against eventual tournament winners, South Africa (26-5), hosts Tunisia (26-5), and Uganda (22-0).
After finishing bottom of the group and missing out on a place in the semi-finals, the Lady Cheetahs shifted their attention to finishing as high as they could in the final ranking matches.
The Cyprian Mandenge-coached side put on a brilliant display in their 5th-place playoff semifinal match against Madagascar.
They led 5-0 at the break and scored a last-gasp try to force the match into extra time.
Unfortunately despite their best efforts the Zimbabwe side lost 10-15 which meant they dropped to the seventh and eighth-place playoff final against Ghana, who had earlier lost 24-5 against Tunisia.
The Lady Cheetahs were fired up against the Ghanaians, scoring two unconverted tries in the first half before defending resolutely in the second half to blank their opponents and secure the 10-0 win which meant they avoided finishing last in the competition.
Voice Ndou, who featured for Western Province’s women’s rugby team this past season, was undoubtedly the top performer for the Lady Cheetahs during the tournament as she scored some beautiful tries.
The 23-year-old – who plays on the wing in the fuller version, was an outstanding player in the University of Western Cape team that gained promotion into the female Varsity Cup for 2024.
The scintillating performances for UWC earned Ndou a Western Province call-up for the Women’s Premier Division in Cape Town. She lived up to her billing in Tunisia with some splendid performances for the Zimbabwe team which was captained by the experienced Delight Mukomondo.
Meanwhile, neighbours South Africa secured their spot to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris following a 12-7 victory over Kenya in the final of the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifier.
Second-placed Kenya and Uganda, who beat Zambia 29-10 in the third-place playoff match will now turn their attention to next year’s repechage, where they’ll have another opportunity to secure the final qualification spot for Paris.
Hosts Tunisia finished fifth following a 25-5 win against Madagascar while Zimbabwe and Ghana completed the standings respectively in the eight-team competition.