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International Sevens rugby returns

Paul Munyuki Sports Correspondent
THE first edition of the Kwese Victoria Falls Sevens International tournament starts on Saturday at Victoria Falls Primary School. The Cheetahs and two of their developmental sides have gone into camp preparing for the tourney. This marks the return of international Sevens rugby to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has not hosted an international Sevens tournament since the disappearance of Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s Spar International tournament three years ago — an event that attracted teams from Europe, Africa and Asia at its prime.

However, the likes of Zambia, Botswana and Namibia are all expected in the country by Friday for the first edition of the two-day tournament that gets underway in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday. The hosts are expected to field three teams, while Botswana and Zambia are each expected to bring two teams and Namibia one.

ZRU general manager and tournament director Sifiso Made told The Herald that the tournament was expected to run for five years under the Kwese Sport partnership title as they have signed a five-year deal with Econet Media’s pay-TV providers.

“The bigger picture is that the tournament not only grows in Zimbabwe but we are looking at a plan where it becomes Africa’s biggest Sevens series, a platform that will run parallel to the HSBC’s World Sevens Series.

“We have signed a five-year deal with Kwese and at the moment we only have African teams for the first edition but it is in our plans, as the ZRU, to surpass the standards we had set for ourselves for international tournaments.

“As of now Zimbabwe or African teams (outside South Africa and Kenya) only get to play in at most three legs of the World Series so this series-to-be tournament would help the African teams prepare for the World Series core membership qualifiers.

“And that first and important step is what we are going to take this weekend following the arrival of the teams,” said Made.

The ZRU general manager added that Kwese Sport will broadcast the two-day event live on their platforms.

“For this year, the tournament will be beamed live from the Victoria Falls Primary School but as of next year, it will take place at the Elephant Hills Hotel, where we are planning to set up a field,” said the former Harare province chairman.

However, the tournament will not only cater for the senior national sides as the ZRU have also put development into consideration, so there will also be an Under-19 tournament running concurrently.

“The youth tournament will include a team from Botswana but will be dominated by teams from the southern part of the country and this includes schools like Milton, Petra and Hwange while Mbare Academy from Harare will also grace the show.”

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