Undisputed Kings of African rugby

HARARE - Zimbabwe's weekend triumph in Morocco in the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) qualification tournament for the 2013 IRB Sevens Rugby Cup means the resurgent giant of African rugby is now the continental title-holders at both fifteens and sevens.

Never mind that the Springboks do not play in continental rugby competitions at fifteens level because they are simply in a class of their own, never mind that Namibia, the second highest-placed African nation on the world rankings, did not take part in the African Championships in Tunisia this year because they had been relegated to Group 1B of the Car pecking order due to internal strife plaguing the game in that country.

But that is hardly Zimbabwe’s problem, and the absence of these two countries did not exactly guarantee a stroll in the park for the Sables when they clinched the African title in Tunisia in June.

Similarly, the absence of South Africa and Kenya from the Sevens Africa Zone qualifiers in Morocco at the weekend does not take the glow off Zimbabwe’s achievement.

The Springbok Sevens and Kenya automatically qualify for the Sevens World Cup by virtue of being core members of the IRB World Sevens Series.

But to demean the Cheetahs’ success in Morocco simply on that basis will be showing utter disrespect for the fairly-decent sevens rugby sides like Madagascar, who are very good but still failed to qualify, and Tunisia (who lost 33-12 to Zimbabwe in the final but also qualified for the World Cup since two slots where up for grabs).  

It is also encouraging to note that Zimbabwe has exerted its dominance on African rugby at both fifteens and sevens levels, which shows the balance and skill the country has in the game.
 
The world’s rugby powerhouses are adept at playing both forms, and if Zimbabwe is to rebuild its good name as a strong rugby nation, there is need to maintain that balance, especially for a country like us.

While players from the other countries specialise in one version at international level, in Zimbabwe these two versions feed off each other well.

It is an arrangement which suits us as a small nation and has worked extremely well if you consider that some of the Sables players are also key members of the Cheetahs, and vice versa.

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