Despite the Cheetahs finishing 23 out of 24 men’s teams at the just-ended Rugby World Cup Sevens, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union is pleased with the progress being made by the fairly young team.
ZRU vice-president in charge of sevens rugby, Losson Mtongwiza, indicated on the final day of the tournament on Sunday that since coach Graham Kaulback’s mandate was to rebuild the team, they were happy with the Cheetahs finishing second from the bottom.
The Cheetahs won one and lost three of the four matches they played in South Africa, their only victory delivered against Jamaica, the only team that Zimbabwe were better than at the tournament, a repeat of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States.
“The rugby union will be quite happy with the result, coming in ranked number 23 out of 24, with a young team. Yes, we are fully behind the coach and he is rebuilding plans and exercise, we feel that with a just but more time will help to actually consolidate and start to improve and gain strength above the other countries,’’ stated Mtongwiza.
“We have a few things that we need to twitch and one of those key things is to ensure there is enough muscle in the team, that’s the guys going to the gym and putting in the shift work in the gym to make sure they gain the muscle.
“Because it’s a new team, we are rebuilding the team, we think we are making progress because they have managed to maintain their position while they are a young team,’’ he added.
The ZRU second in charge is of the view that the Cheetahs are doing well by being able to continually qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Zimbabwe were making their sixth appearance at the tournament since they made their debut at the 1997 event held in Hong Kong. This was the third consecutive time that Zimbabwe were appearing at the global event.
“Obviously, we are excited to be at the World Cup, we have done well to be here, we came through having been to the last three World Cups in Sevens. It meant that we have doing well to continue to be able to make the grade to be at the World Cup.”
Mtongwiza feels that the Cheetahs were unfortunate to lose the match against South Korea as the plan was to finish better than the team did in the USA four years ago.
“Obviously, we wanted to do better, we thought that the game against Korea, we could have won that game, we were just unlucky but we go back to the drawing board now, we have a couple of things that we’ve discussed with the technical team that are out here and we agree with the assessment that the guys need to bulk up, we need a bit more muscle in the team for us to be able to go forward, for us going forward now it’s a continuous process,’’ remarked Mtongwiza.
A number of tournaments are planned for the Cheetahs in the coming months in Uganda, Kenya and United Arab Emirates to give the players more exposure.
“We have the Great Lakes in Uganda and the Safari Sevens coming up end of October, hopefully we will be ready for those and obviously the Dubai Sevens coming up during the first week of December. So, we need to go back, get the guys back into the gym training also to try and make sure that they are ready for those tournaments,’’ outlined Mtongwiza.
He firmly believes that since the average age of the current squad is 24, in four years’ time, the players would have gained experience to perform better if the team does qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Herald