Cheetahs on the hunt again

HARARE - In one of its busiest years in recent seasons, the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby side has targeted an IRB circuit core team status ahead of June’s Sevens World Cup in Russia.

The Cheetahs will play in the Hong Kong leg of the IRB World Sevens Series end of March, which will be used as a pre-qualifier for core team status of the nine-legged whirlwind series. The Zimbabwean side failed in its bid to make the core group last year.

The top four teams in Hong Kong, from a pool of current non-core teams, will then earn tournament berths at the London leg of the series in May.

In London, the four qualifiers from Hong Kong, plus the bottom three teams from the current series and other non-core teams, will battle it out for three slots on the IRB World Sevens Series core team list.

The IRB World Sevens Series – which is sponsored by British multinational banking and financial services company HSBC – is a series of nine tournaments played throughout the season in Australia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, New Zealand, United States, Hong, Kong, Japan, Scotland and England.

Only core members take part in all nine legs.

The Zimbabwe Sevens franchise recently professionalise some of their players to incentivise them ahead of the busy year, and Cheetahs manager Bruce Hobson says core status will take the team to full professionalism.

“We have professionalise some guys,” Hobson told the Daily News yesterday. “We are now in a position to demand the levels we want. They (the players) are now in a better position. If we become a core team, we will professional because the IRB funds it.”

Hobson said the Cheetahs are now eager to go to the Word Cup in Moscow in June as a core member.

“The beauty of it is that it’s all aiming for the same thing. The first goal is we got to Hong Kong and aim to qualify for London. And then going to the World Cup as a core team will set us up well brilliantly.”

In addition to circuit and World Cup commitments, Zimbabwe will in March host the second ever edition of the Spar International Sevens Series at Harare Sports Club at the beginning of March.

 

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