Zimbabwe ready to host rugby  Africa Sevens tournament Sifiso Made

Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau

ZIMBABWE Rugby Union are ready for an explosive weekend of rugby as 10 African teams are expected to land in Harare today for the 2023 Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens Tournament that will be held at the Harare Sports Club.

The tournament will take place at Harare Sports Club on Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 12 countries are expected to battle it out in the two-day tournament, which will double as the Paris 2024 Olympics qualifier.

Teams from South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Algeria, Madagascar, Burkina Faso and hosts Zimbabwe will battle it out to get the single automatic qualification slot to next year’s Summer Games in France.

Madagascar were the first team to arrive shortly before midday yesterday and there is a lot of activity expected today at the Robert Mugabe International Airport as the remaining teams make their way in.

ZRU chief executive officer Sifiso Made yesterday said the union has put in place all the logistics and are confident of putting Zimbabwe on the world map by hosting a successful event.

“We can safely say that the teams have already started trickling in. The majority will be in tomorrow (today). The first to arrive was Madagascar.

“They have since checked into their hotel and already acclimatising with Zimbabwe. Others that have come in are some of the delegations from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso but officially the majority of the teams will come in tomorrow (today).

“As you know, there are a lot of people coming to our shores from Uganda, Kenya as extra delegates to support their teams,” said Made.

The ZRU Local Organising Committee has been busy putting on the final touches ahead of the official opening ceremony set to be hosted at the Alliance Francaise tomorrow.

The Minister of Sports Kirsty Coventry and the French Ambassador Laurent Chevallier are expected to be among the high ranking officials that also include ambassadors from the participating countries.

“This ceremony is to welcome all the teams. We have officials, mainly from embassies that are represented here in Zimbabwe. The honourable Minister Kirsty Coventry, as well as the officials from SRC and the French Ambassador will be in attendance.

“We are looking forward to that. We will also have a chance to meet the team captains and high ranking officials in the sport from across the globe,” said Made.

Harare Sports Club, which recently hosted the ICC World Cup Qualifier and the inaugural Zim-Afro 10 cricket tournaments is expected to reverberate to the sound of music and dance again during this two-day event.

Made said the venue was in pristine condition to host the games.

All the matches are expected to be broadcast after ZRU signed a major broadcasting deal with Zimpapers Television Network. They also roped in all-weather friend Paramount Garments as the major sponsors for the continental event.

“Our team is in camp and we are looking forward to them trying to offset or knock off some of the bigwigs like South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

“So preparations are going on very well. The LOC has been meeting on a daily basis supported by the Government of Zimbabwe through the SRC who we are grateful for funding this tournament.

“We also have sponsors like Paramount Garments and Zambezi Lager that have really come to the party.

So we are thanking the corporates as well but in Ernst we are ready for the tournament.

“To the rugby fans we say, just like what you do with cricket and football, please come in your masses and support our Cheetahs who have a very good chance of going through in this tournament, if not as the winners but at least as second or third place for the repechage. So we want the support,” said Made.

ZRU Communication and Marketing Manager, Robbie Du Rand said the cheapest ticket has been pegged at US$5.

“The clarion call resounds for all Zimbabweans to converge at the Harare Sports Club for an exhilarating two-day extravaganza.

“We invite you to adorn yourselves in the national colours and infuse the grounds with the indomitable spirit of Zimbabwe.

“Entry is a nominal fee of US$5 for general admission and a mere US$10 for VIP access. Families are encouraged to attend, as we have curated a delightful children’s fun park, complete with trained caretakers to ensure your children’s enjoyment, allowing you to savour every moment of the proceedings.

“For local Zimbabwean corporations seeking corporate engagement opportunities, including VIP access, we extend an invitation to explore sponsorship options,” said Du Rand.

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