Rugby Sevens World Cup, a dream come true for Phiri

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Sam Phiri in action during the World Rugby Sevens Repechage match between Zimbabwe and Mexico on June 18, 2021 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Giorgio Perottino - World Rugby/Getty Images)

Growing up, Sam Phiri’s dream was to represent his country.

He did that with distinction right from an early age for the country’s age group teams, while he also had the honour of captaining the Zimbabwe Junior Sables during the 2016 edition of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy.

Last year he earned his maiden senior national team cap after making his debut for the Zimbabwe sevens side during the Rugby Africa Solidarity Camp in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and the preceding Tokyo Olympic Games final qualifier in Monaco.

Next week Phiri will take another big step in his promising rugby career when he represents the country at the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, South Africa.

Phiri, who recently returned home after a successful stint in Poland was last week named in the Zimbabwean side, nicknamed the Cheetahs ahead of the global tournament, to be played at Cape Town Stadium between September 9 and 11.

For Phiri, rubbing shoulders against some of the world’s shorter format players in a global competition is the stuff of dreams.

“It’s a dream come true to be able to play in a World Cup. In whatever profession you do in life whether it’s business or sports, you always measure yourself against the best in the world,” Phiri said in an interview with ZimSportLive.

“I have an opportunity now to show the World I am not just another rugby player but am in the top percentage of my profession and there is no better stage than the World Cup.

“I am extremely excited to go there and absolutely compete against whoever is wearing the opposite jersey to me on the field and do it as well with a group of teammates sharing the same values and all driven to the same goal.”

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

Twenty-four-year-old Phiri, who is part of a 12-man youthful Cheetahs side which will be representing the country in Cape Town said everyone is the squad is working hard and focused on putting on a good show.

He has also been impressed by the efforts that have been made to ensure the team adequately prepares for their participation in the World Cup.

“The mood around the camp is quite calm at the moment, everyone is just busy making sure we hit our training targets and improve the areas we need to work on whilst also massively focusing on getting our strengths to a world-class standard.”

He added: “It’s been great to be back training and actually preparing for a tournament for a longer period. I’ve been back now for four weeks and this is the longest time I’ve had ever since leaving school to prepare for a tournament playing for Zimbabwe. Normally it’s one week or if you are lucky two weeks but this time, I’m going to have six weeks to prepare before the first kick-off on Friday the 9th of September which for any professional athlete more preparation means more confidence.”

Sam Phiri

The powerfully-built Phiri, who is blessed with good hands, deft touch, explosive pace and finishing prowess cut his teeth at South African Currie Cup side Western Province where he can through their academy before featuring for the U-21 side.

Prior to his move to South Africa, Phiri was at Falcon College in Esigodini. He also excelled as a cricketer at Falcon, before deciding to specialise in rugby.

At the World Cup, Phiri will be eager to make an impact for the Cheetahs, who will begin their campaign with a tough encounter against Canada in a pre-round of 16 fixtures on the opening day of the event September 9.

The winners of the qualification round involving teams seeded from nine to 24 progress to the round of 16 where they will take on the top eight seeds, while the losers drop down into the consolation Bowl competition that will decide positions 17 to 24.

 

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