Zimbabwe Sevens rugby team captain Hilton Mudariki believes his charges can bring smiles on the faces of success-starved local rugby fans by guiding his charges to qualification for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Mudariki, one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise dismal Sables campaign after being named in the Gold Cup All-Star team reckons they have what it takes to qualify for their third consecutive Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The Cheetahs, as the national Sevens rugby side is affectionately known, will need to reach the final of this year’s edition of the Africa Cup Sevens tournament to be held in Uganda from October 6 to 7 to book a ticket for the global showpiece.
“Our focus, like what I always say to the guys, is to take it one game at a time and hopefully progress to the final but we definitely want to go to the World Cup,” he said
“In any rugby game it’s always about belief and for us to achieve that we have to believe that we are going to go to the World Cup…”
Mudariki’s sentiments came after the Cheetahs’ quest to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens received a welcome boost from Delta Beverages which unveiled its Zambezi Lager as the team’s new title sponsor.
Delta unveiled a US$100 000 sponsorship ahead of the Cheetahs’ Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign, a development which Mudariki believes will significantly boost the team’s chances of achieving their goal.
“It’s a massive boost for us and we are really happy that Delta through their Zambezi Lager brand have come on board and put in a lot for us as the players as we embark on our journey towards qualifying for the World Cup.”
“The morale is going to be high after this sponsorship by Delta. We started the year on a high in Victoria Falls where we put in a really good perfomance (to win the Kwese Sevens) with a lot of young players and the pool of players is bigger as we have about 40 guys that are all going to be vying for positions to get into that World Cup squad. Competition for jerseys is always good for any squad and that’s only going to make us better.”
Speaking during the sponsorship unveiling in the capital yesterday, Delta Beverages’ sales executive, Stanley Muchenje, said: “We believe that the Cheetahs are a special team with special qualities that we would like to be associated with, qualities that we share. We cherish success and excellence and I would like to advise everyone that Zambezi is a brand that shares those values. It is a brand that has been chosen as one of the eight brands to represent Africa as Africa’s finest and we believe that the partnership should be able to propel both much further.”
The Cheetahs are aiming to qualify for their third successive Rugby World Cup Sevens after their participation at the previous edition of the global showpiece in Russia in 2013.
In fact, the Cheetahs have been the country’s most successful rugby team, having qualified for all but two editions of the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments since the inaugural tournament held in 1993 in Scotland, the birthplace of rugby sevens.
The partnership with Delta comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Sevens Rugby committee led by former national team player Donald Mangenje has been mobilising resources for the team ahead of the October qualifiers to be held in Uganda.
A fundraising golf tournament dubbed the “Cheetahs Golf Day” has been slated for Chapman Golf Club in Harare today where corporates and individuals can contribute to the event through participation, prize donations and hole sponsorship.
A training squad of 40 players was announced yesterday for the Cheetahs’ camp ahead of their first preparatory event, in the Zambia International Sevens tournament to be held in Lusaka from September 2-3.
Nyamutsamba’s charges will then head to Lesotho, who will host their first-ever international tournament from September 24 to 24 ahead of the qualifiers which take place in Kampala.
T Tsomondo, R O’Neil, N Ndlovu, B Tshamala, N Chibuwe, B Dube, M Ndhleha, H Mudariki, G Nechironga, B Rouse, C Pritchard, S Makombe, T Chitokwindo, M Kidson, L Sithole, O Muhambi, T Kumadiro, T Fransisco, Z Nkomo, S Hunduza, S Johns, L Tambwera, T Chieza, S Katsvere, I Nyatsanza, M Kazingizi, P Dube, G Muyambo, D Museredza, T Gwisai, J Gando, T Makwanya, S Hlanguyo, N Madida, T Mugariri, W Gode, T Chiremba, K Magunje, W Seremani, R Dodo.