Zimbabwe impress at Spain sevens

Enock Muchinjo


ZIMBABWE sevens rugby manager Bruce Hobson says reaching the semi-finals of the International Cup in the Benidorm Sevens in Spain last weekend was a better achievement than last year’s victory in the tournament’s silver spoon competition, the I

nternational Plate.

Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Cheetahs lost 5-12 to Japan in the semi-finals of the International Cup, which is the main competition in the annual Spanish tournament.

“It would have been nice to win a trophy like last year and I believe if we had played in the Plate we would have won it,” Hobson said. “But the Plate is an easier competition, and we were one of the top sides after the pool matches so we had to play in the tougher cup competition. I believe reaching the semis of the cup was a better achievement.”

The Zimbabweans had beaten American outfit Atlantis 12-7 in the quarter-finals. In their pool matches earlier they walloped Portugal 38-7 and lost 14-17 to the Welsh Wizards.

Hobson said although he was largely satisfied with the Cheetahs’ performance, the team still has a lot to learn in international sevens competitions.

“We didn’t play to our best at times but we got progressively better,” he said. “We learnt new techniques and new ways of running the ball.”

In Benidorm, Zimbabwe were crippled by absence of star gasman Emmanuel Munyoro, who stayed behind at Hartpury College in England after picking an injury in the Amsterdam Sevens the previous weekend.

The Cheetahs also missed the expertise of English-based technical coach Liam Middleton, who did not travel to Spain. The highly rated Zimbabwean trainer was taking up a new appointment as coach of the British Universities Sevens side.

South Africa-based utility back Tangai Nemadire, who played scrumhalf, was the Cheetahs’ most outstanding player in the tournament with six tries.

Hobson said the Cheetahs’ European tour was crucial preparation for the Mosi and Tusker tournaments in Zambia and Kenya respectively in the coming few weeks.

“Kenya were playing in Paris (in the IRB Sevens) last week and had we not gone on tour we would not have been ready for them,” he said.