Story by Lawrence Trusida, Sports Editor
THE Zimbabwe Sevens rugby team’s hopes of a maiden appearance at the Olympic Games have been given a big boost after the Cheetahs were given the right to host the 2023 Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens, which also serves as the continental qualifier for the 2024 Paris games.
The tournament features Africa’s leading teams and will be held from the 6th to the 7th of September in Zimbabwe with the winners going through to Paris.
The country was given the nod to host the tournament in a unanimous decision after the continent’s rugby governing body was impressed by Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s development and administration structures.
“We look forward to hosting a very successful Sevens tournament and we are very grateful to Rugby Africa for the opportunity. Hosting is good for the team as we will have home advantage and also it is a sign of confidence from the continental body that we are doing things right in Zimbabwe,” said Zimbabwe Rugby Union president, Aaron Jani.
Zimbabwe have only hosted the Olympic qualifier once in 2014 when South Africa walked away as winners.
The Cheetahs have won the tournament three times in 2000, 2012 and 2018, but have never qualified for the Olympics.
They will have to be at their best if they are entertaining any hopes of qualifying as they will be up against defending champions, Uganda as well as continental heavyweights, Kenya and emerging forces Zambia, Tunisia and Madagascar.