Zimbabwe’s women rugby sevens side found the going tough on the final day of the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens after bowing out at the quarterfinals of the Cup competition before settling for eighth position at the Stade Municipal de Jemmal in Monastir, Tunisia on Saturday.
The Lady Cheetahs’ campaign had gotten off to a promising start on Friday when they qualified for the Cup quarterfinals following a 14-12 victory over Senegal in their first Pool A match before putting on a commendable fight albeit a 15-0 loss to South Africa in their second match.
After a solid start on day one, a lot was expected from the young Zimbabwe team which was targeting a top-four finish in the continental competition.
The Lady Cheetahs’ hopes of qualifying for the World Cup however went up in smoke after they were knocked out of the Africa Cup at the quarter-final stage following a 10-0 defeat to Uganda on Sunday morning.
The loss saw them being relegated to the Plate Cup, where neighbours Zambia handed them a 21-14 defeat at the semi-final stage.
The Lady Cheetahs finished the tournament in eighth place, having also lost 7-29 to Ghana in their final ranking match.
Despite the team’s failure to achieve their target to finish in the top four, Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) president Aaron Jani believes the team can hold their heads high for a job well done after a decent show at the Rugby Africa Sevens Cup in Tunisia.
He described coach Derek Chiwara’s outfit as “work in progress”.
“Yeah, we would have loved a podium finish, but it is important to remember where this team is coming from and the fact there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Jani in an interview with The Sunday Mail.
“The ladies gave it their best effort and performed very well.
“This team is still work in progress.”
Springbok Women Sevens triumphant in Tunisia
Meanwhile, neighbours South Africa claimed the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens title by beating Madagascar 15-14 in a pulsating final in Monastir.
The Springbok Women Sevens, who had already qualified for the Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens as the host nation, had to dig deep for this win – which also saw them qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July
Madagascar, by reaching the final, also qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in September and looked set to shock the South Africans, who won the title in their last appearance of this continental showpiece in 2019.
They scored first in both halves of the match to extend their 7-5 lead at the break to 14-5 before Lusanda Dumke and Eloise Webb’s second half tries, complimented by a sublime run by Nadine Roos before the break, secured the South African win in the most dramatic fashion. Time was long gone when Webb received the final pass to score.
Hosts Tunisia took third place in the tournament following a 17-15 win over Uganda in the bronze medal match.