Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE Rugby Union president Aaron Jani believes establishing a domestic Sevens league is key to strengthening the player base from which the Cheetahs can draw talent.
Jani made the remarks after observing the battling qualities of a largely locally-based Cheetahs and the Goshawks teams at the Kwese International Sevens at the Harare Sports Club last weekend.
The ZRU president said the reigning African Champions, who are bidding for a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, could build on the Kwese tourney, which was their season-opening event.
Hosts Zimbabwe finished as runners-up after blowing a 14-7 lead at the break to fall 19-14 to Georgia in the final.
“What we also realised, if you look at Goshawks, is that there is a lot of talent and what it pointed out is that we don’t have a domestic league for the Sevens.
“So, going forward, we are going to ensure that that there is a domestic league in the country where the Cheetahs can draw from and, in terms of game time, the players will be guaranteed that,’’ Jani said.
The Cheetahs next assignment is the Hong Kong tournament on April 5.
Jani also acknowledged that the absence of continental Sevens heavyweights Kenya and Uganda had somewhat dampened the profile of the tournament but explained that a host of African countries were currently facing problems related to financial resources.
“What was very apparent was that we are having challenges in terms of resources throughout Africa and two of the main teams that we expected to grace the event, Kenya and Uganda, failed to make it because of resource restraints.
“We also look at those who were much closer to us, which is Lesotho and Botswana, they also had challenges in terms of resources and it is one of the major problems that have come to the fore.
“Having said that we were very honoured to have Georgia coming through and they were given good competition.
“We would have wanted to win it but they won and, obviously, they would have to come back next year to defend their title,’’ Jani said.
Jani also noted that the tournament had played second fiddle to the crunch African Cup of Nations qualifier between the Warriors and the Congo Red Devils across town at the National Sports Stadium.
“We would have wanted to have the crowds but were competing with soccer and they had higher profile game but the crowds that came through gave us a lot positive feedback.’’
Jani is also confident that participation in the domestic Super Six League and the SuperSport Challenge in South Africa will help the Sables in the Africa Gold Cup this year.