THE sevens rugby season explodes into life tomorrow with 12 teams lined up for the northern region Summer series at Harare Sports Club. The event would be staged despite delays in securing spons
orship, the Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens Union said this week.
Traditional giants Old Hararians and Harare Sports Club will be fielding two sides as will be fast improving University, whose player base has grown over the past two seasons. Other clubs taking part are Mashonaland Country Districts, Police Defenders, Mabvuku, Churchill School’s Bulldogs and Alexandra Sports Club, a former rugby power which had disappeared from the scene for several years.
Bruce Hobson, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens Union, said tomorrow’s matches, the first of a four-round series in the region, will go ahead despite delays in finalising the sponsorship package deal.
Hobson said this season will be one of the busiest in recent years as more players are taking up sevens rugby and understanding its requirements.
“It is exciting times for sevens rugby. More players are showing passion for the game and it is the right direction for us as we are looking for new talent,” he said. “People are keen. Sevens suit Zimbabwe very well and we are trying to be organised and build a platform for the national sevens side.”
Harare Sports Club, who exhibited their sevens prowess by scooping three of last season’s tournaments, are once again expected to pour their bitterness for their 15’s failure where their arch-rivals OH have dominated them in the past four years. HSC will hope to benefit from the vital experience of flyhalf Happy Nyatanga and locks Allan Mdewa and Zacks Tondoro, who were part of the national sevens side, the Cheetahs, last year.
However, OH will look for inspiration from their large pool of players which has seen the Milton Park based outfit field a formidable second team in the 15s that they could easily have three sevens sides.
Meanwhile, the southern region leg of the summer series will only kick off next weekend due to logistical problems.
“The southern region guys have been having problems with transport since only three teams are from Bulawayo while the rest are from places like Zvishavane, Gweru and Victoria Falls. However, we hope to have taken care of the situation by next week,” said Hobson.
The domestic tournaments will culminate in the selection of the national side to represent the country in the first round of the World Sevens Series in Dubai and Georgia in December. The Cheetahs had a hectic schedule last season, playing in regional Safari Tours and touring Europe as part of their preparations for the failed World Cup qualifying campaign.
Sixteen countries have been invited to take part in Dubai and Georgia where the Cheetahs are likely to be seeded in their group which is expected to feature sevens giants Fiji, Samoa and South Africa.