Zimbabwe on core status charge in London

(IRB.COM) Friday 10 May 2013
 
 Zimbabwe on core status charge in London
Zimbabwe won the pre-qualifier tournament in Hong Kong

Zimbabwe head into this weekend's Marriott London Sevens with the target of becoming a core team on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.

With record crowds expected to be at Twickenham for the Series finale, many eyes will be on the eight team tournament, from which three sides will join the top 12 in the elite competition.

For Zimbabwe, Tonga, Russia, Georgia and Hong Kong the focus may be slightly different to that of Scotland, Portugal and Spain.

QUALIFIER POOLS AND FIXTURES >>

While the latter three sides will be attempting to re-qualify as a core team having finished 13th, 14th and 15th respectively in the standings after last weekend's Glasgow Sevens, the other five qualifiers (four from Hong Kong, and Hong Kong as the Asian Sevens champions) will be looking to join the top 12 for the first time.

"It is going to be tough, every team wants to play in the World Series," said Zimbabwe captain Jacques Leitao.

"For those fighting for their spot to stay on there, for those teams there is more incentive for them, but for us who haven't had the opportunity to play there is even more for us.

"It would be huge for Zimbabwe Rugby, and obviously for the Sevens. All the hard work that has been put in and to achieve what we want to achieve would be a great result for everyone."

Zimbabwe head into the tournament having won the pre-qualifer tournament by beating Tonga in the final and Russia in the semi finals in Hong Kong, which could give them an edge over the other sides to have qualified behind them in that competition. 

"It has given us some confidence, coming off the back of winning that in Hong Kong is very good for us," added Leitao.

"The experience some of the new guys have had over this year will serve us well going into this one. We will have to have some cool heads but we are looking forward to it.

"We think we are capable. We have beaten Scotland before too and we know we have the potential and hopefully this weekend it pays off for us."

Vital for Scotland

For Scotland the challenge is the same, to finish in the top three on Sunday, but their mentality may be different having been been a core side this season.

Having finished 13th overall after their home tournament in Glasgow, they now have to re-qualify, something which is vital according to captain Colin Gregor, who is under no illusions how tough that will be.

"It helps we have had a couple more top quality tournaments under our belt and we need to use that to advantage and perform as best we can," said Gregor.

"It is a fierce competition, and that shows how competitive Sevens is becoming in the world. Even with the likes of Japan not being here, we are under no illusion about how tough this will be. We just have to perform as well as we know we can and get our game right.

"We are confident, we have been in the core Series and we need to get back there as that is where we belong. But just because we say that it doesn't mean it will happen, it is going to be a tough tournament.

"It is vital for us though. There is a programme in place which is building towards the Commonwealth Games next year but that revolves around us going to all nine Series events, so we are under no illusions about how important it is we re-qualify."

London Sevens

Round 9
10-11 May 2014 Venue: Twickenham
City: London
Capacity: 82,000

 
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