By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S national rugby sevens team will have an opportunity to fine-tune their preparations in the final qualifying tournament for Tokyo Olympic Games in June when they take part in a training camp in South Africa.
The training camp is set for early next month.
The Olympic Games’ final qualifying, which is for the runners-up from the continental qualifiers, will be played in Monaco from June 19-21.
After missing out on automatic qualification to the Olympics during the continental qualifier last year, the Zimbabwe Cheetahs will battle it out for the remaining ticket with Brazil, Chile, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Samoa, Tonga and Uganda.
However, Zimbabwe is yet to start preparing for the important qualifier as local rugby has been on ice since March due to Covid-19 with players scattered in different parts of the country and around the world.
In preparation for the upcoming engagement, the Cheetahs will take part in the training camp which will run from May 6-16 with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda in attendance.
South Africa and Kenya have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics while Zimbabwe together with Uganda still have a chance to book the remaining ticket in Monaco next month.
The camp is being funded by the continental rugby governing body Rugby Africa who will cater for the team’s costs such as flights, accommodation and coronavirus testing for a delegation of 18.
Zimbabwe’s preparatory camp in South Africa would be a major boost for the Cheetahs coaching department headed by Daniel Hondo which until now has had to come up with unconventional ways to keep his players active.
Hondo and his assistant Graham Kaulback have drawn up a specialised strength and conditioning program for the players to ensure they maintain their fitness ahead of resumption of training.
The Cheetahs’ imminent return to action comes after Zimbabwe’s senior national fifteens side, the Sables and the Zimbabwe Under-20 team were recently given the green light to resume training.
The Sables have lined up home and away Test matches against Zambia and Namibia for May and June, to give the side some much-needed game time after a blank year in 2020. The Sables are also expected to feature in the Rugby Africa Cup, which is the first stage of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe’s Under-20 is scheduled to play Zambia away on May 29, with a return fixture a week later. They will then play continental powerhouse Namibia in home and away matches scheduled for June 16 and June 20 respectively.