Consolation for Leitao

HARARE - There was scant consolation for the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby side following their failure to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games after captain Jacques Leitao was named Player of the Tournament.

The Cheetahs narrowly lost out of qualification for next year’s showpiece after losing 19-17 to Kenya in the African qualifiers in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday.

Dennis Ombachi broke the Zimbabweans’ hearts when he popped up right at the death to score a try that gave the East Africans the lead.

Kenya will now join South Africa’s Blitzbokke as Africa’s two representatives at the Rio Games next year when rugby sevens makes its debut as an Olympic Games code.

Leitao was however, honoured by Rugby Afrique as the qualifying tournament’s most impressive performer after some explosive displays for the Cheetahs. 

The Cheetahs showed their class with a series of solid performances, which earned them a 31-12 victory against Nigeria, a 48-0 win against Zambia and a 43-0 win against Uganda in the pool stages.

In the quarter-finals, Zimbabwe beat Nigeria 27-10 before going onto to flatten Morocco 26-0 in the semi-final clash.

With a little bit of luck and better game management they could have held on for a win in the final against Kenya.

“Feeling very blessed and honoured after being awarded the Player of the Tournament last night @zimsevens @RugbyAfrique #blessed #teamwork,” Leitao wrote on Twitter yesterday.

All hope is not lost though for the Cheetahs as they still have one more shot of qualifying for Rio when they take part in the repechage tournament in June next year.

The venue and the details of the tournament will be announced in due course since qualifiers for other regions are still taking place.

At the repechage tournament, the Cheetahs will be joined by Morocco and Tunisia, who came in third and fourth place respectively in South Africa at the weekend.


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