Zimbabwe favourites to qualify for RWC Sevens

(IRB.COM) Friday 14 September 2012  
 
 Zimbabwe favourites to qualify for RWC Sevens
Wesley Mbanje will be hoping to help Zimbabwe appear at next year's RWC Sevens in Moscow

By Paul Munyuki

Zimbabwe manager Bruce Hobson is confident his side will qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 when they take part in Africa's qualifying tournament at the end of the month in Morocco. 

South Africa and Kenya have already qualified for next year's tournament in Russia's capital Moscow meaning Zimbabwe are favourites to take one of the two additional places to represent Africa.

“I am sure we will do well in Morocco because we are ranked the highest there so we have to retain that top team tag and we would love to qualify for the World Cup by winning the qualifiers," said Hobson.

“If we play to the best of our abilities we will be able to conquer."

Drawn in Pool B of the two day event, the Cheetahs will take on Tunisia, Namibia and Ivory Coast before the knock out stages take place on the second day.

Zimbabwe are expected to come out on top, but will head to the Middelburg Sevens first to gain some momentum ahead of the qualifier in Rabat on 29-30 September.

“It’s an important part of our preparations," added Hobson.

"We know our performance there is going to have an impact on the way we will play in Morocco so we are taking it very seriously."

Squad depth

In trying to build a strong squad, Hobson said they have made an arrangement to take development side the Goshawks with them to Middelburgh.

“I have been talking to the likes of Lenience Tambwera and Tapiwa Tsomondo because they show a lot of potential for the game and so it will be good to have them as part of the Goshawks side.

“But the Cheetahs will obviously have most of the core players who include Wes Mbanje, Manasha Sita, Scotty Johns and we have also called back in Tafadzwa Chitokwindo."

The Cheetahs will also not be travelling alone to Morocco, as the tournament in Rabat will also see the Zimbabwe women's team competing for a place in the women's tournament in Moscow. 

Hobson, however, is confident his charges will be up to the challenge when they travel to North Africa, adding their main aim is not only to qualify for the World Cup, but do so by winning the tournament.

Teams from Europe, Oceania and North America/Caribbean have already participated in their regional qualifying tournaments, meaning there are just six places remaining.

Two will come from Africa in Morocco, before the Asian qualifier in Singapore on 2-3 November will produce three qualifiers after the Asian Sevens Series, and the one final place will not be decided until 23-24 February when South American teams enter a tournament in Rio de Janeiro.

RWC Sevens 2013 Qualifiers by Region
 
Europe - July 20-21, Albufeira, Portugal - Portugal, Spain, France, Georgia and Scotland qualified
Oceania - August 25-26, Sydney, Australia - Australia and Tonga qualified
North America/Caribbean - August 25-26, Ottawa, Canada - Canada and USA qualified
Africa -  September 29-30, Rabat, Morocco - 2 places available
Asia - November 2-3, Singapore - 3 places available
South America - February 23-24, Rio de Janeiro - 1 place available

* Nine teams qualified automatically - Kenya, South Africa, England, Russia, Wales, New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji and Argentina

Paul Munyuki is a rugby writer with The Herald of Zimbabwe.