The team, also known as the Cheetahs, first takes part at the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens at the Scotstoun Stadium in the Scottish capital next weekend. The Glasgow Sevens is the eighth, and penultimate, leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The Cheetahs were handed a tough draw for Glasgow after being pitted alongside HSBC World Sevens Series core teams Fiji, Argentina and Portugal in Pool C. Heavyweights Fiji, who have won two of the sevens legs on the World Series this season including the Hong Kong Sevens two weeks ago, are favourites to win not only the group but the tournament.
In their campaign on the HSBC World Series, Fiji won the plate final of the Tokyo Sevens to remain second in the series’ overall standings on 122 points, six behind leaders New Zealand. The Pumas of Argentina are also a solid outfit while Portugal beat the Cheetahs 21-17 in the quarterfinals of the core-status qualifying tournament in Hong Kong last month.
After the Glasgow Sevens Cheetahs’ skipper Jacques Leitao and his men will have very little time to recover before shifting their focus to the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham from May 12-13. The Cheetahs will only know the identity of their opponents in London after the Glasgow Sevens tournament.
With memories of the disappointment of the Hong Kong sevens tournament still fresh in the minds of local rugby fans, the Cheetahs are hoping to bounce back in style by putting up better perfomances on their maiden tour of Europe. Needing a top three finish in the second-tier 12-team qualifying tournament in Hong Kong, the Cheetahs lost 21-17 to Portugal in the quarterfinals — a result which ended their hopes of joining the elite teams on the World Sevens Series.
Mindful of the importance of the upcoming tournaments, the Cheetahs did not waste any precious time as they regrouped early this week for camp ahead of the departure on Sunday. As early as Tuesday the majority of the players in the Cheetahs side were already at the Country Club gym for strength and fitness tests which were followed by a field session at Old Georgians Sport Club in the evening.
England based utility player Justin Coles, Jonathan McWade, Wes Mbanje, Njabulo Ndlovu, Graham Kulback and Mike Morris joined camp this week. The locally-based players also in camp include Danny Hondo, Kilvan Magunje, Fortune Chipendu, Tangai Nemadire, skipper Jacques Leitao and Gerald Sibanda. However, the Germany based duo of Manasah Sita and Gardner Nechironga will link up with the rest of the team in Scotland.
Jacques Leitao, Fortune Chipendu, Justin Coles, Manasah Sita, Tangai Nemadire, Gerald Sibanda, Gardner Nechironga, Wes Mbanje, Kilvan Magunje, Jonathan McWade, Njabulo Ndlovu, Daniel Hondo, Graham Kaulback, Mike Morris.