Heartbreak for Cheetahs
HARARE – Core status once again proved a bridge too far to cross as Zimbabwe fell 26-7 to Russia in the quarter-finals of the of the qualification tournament at the London Sevens yesterday.
The Cheetahs needed to finish in the top three of the eight team tournament to qualify for promotion and join the elite group of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
As such, Gilbert Nyamutsamba’s men needed at least to get into the semi-finals to keep their hopes alive of winning the core status ticket.
But that core status dream went up in smoke at the hands Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts Russia.
The Russians had Victor Gresev to thank after he crossed over with two tries to ensure Russia overcome the Africans 26-7 and book their place in the semi-final of the eight team tournament.
Russia went on to face Scotland in the second core qualifier semi-final with core status qualification on the line.
The Scots lived up to their pre-tournament billing, beating Russia 19-0 to confirm their place in the core team competition next year.
The Cheetahs had earned their encounter against the Russians by finishing second in Pool A after the group stage on Saturday.
They had beaten Hong Kong and Georgia before falling to top-seeded Scotland.
It was another difficult pill to swallow for the Jacques Leito-captained side, who had done everything right to put themselves on the threshold of joining other top 12 elite rugby nations.
They went into the tournament having won the pre-qualifier tournament by beating Tonga in the final and Russia in the semi-finals in Hong Kong.
Its back to the drawing board for Zimbabwe Sevens.