A DRAW against Australia, Argentina and Fiji — who all reached the quarterfinals of the XVs World Cup last month — is the last thing Zimb
abwe would have wished for at the Dubai Rugby Sevens later this month.
But Zimbabwe Rugby Union boss Bruce Hobson believes Zimbabwe will not be also-rans at the 38th edition of the Dubai tournament — running from November 29 to December 1.
In fact, he has vowed a victory against Australia is not impossible.
“There’s nowhere to hide, but nothing can stop us from beating Australia. If we are in the right frame of mind and all goes according to plan, we’ll beat them,” Hobson told IndependentSport this week.
“We played Argentina in Dubai in muddy conditions and they overcame us, but in George we nearly beat them. So we are looking forward to be competitive.”
Hobson is expecting a number of foreign-based players — among them Fortune Chipendo, Danny Hondo, Roland Benade and Bruce MacMillan — to join camp ahead of the Dubai trip.
“We are basically looking at the guys who did well at sevens tournaments in Kenya and Zambia. So if our players outside the country make it and join the locals, I’m sure we’ll take a strong side to Dubai,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hobson said a lot of work was needed to take Zimbabwe XVs rugby to the same level as sevens.
Hobson, who was in France for the World Cup from the semis to the final, admitted Zimbabwe’s standards had fallen dramatically over the years.
“Our rugby has to be driven by the XVs. We are judged by the XVs, not by the schoolboys even if they do well at the Craven Week,” Hobson said.
“Sevens has taken years to get where we are, but we are lucky that most of the guys in sevens also play XVs. But we’ll have to work hard.”
Zimbabwe XVs coach Brendan Dawson said the difference in standards between Zimbabwe and the weaker teams at the World Cup was not big.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to the professional level we saw at the World Cup, but we can compete with the likes of Portugal and Namibia. I don’t think there’s any big gap between us and those nations,” Dawson said.
Dawson said they needed to have competitive and well-run league structures.
Hobson said another solution was to establish an academy and an Under-21 league.
“There’s a lot to be done. The Northern Rugby league is doing well. We’ve got the structures but we’ll need to do something about the Under-21s,” Hobson said.