THE ZIMBABWE Sevens rugby team participation at the annual Castle Sevens tournament in Zambia is in doubt following reports that the regional tournament has been cancelled for the second consecutive year.
The Castle Sevens was expected to be the Cheetahs’ first competitive tournament since their participation at the IRB Sevens World Cup in Russia.
However, Cheetahs head coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba and his charges will have to wait a bit longer before returning to competition following the latest developments.
According to the Times of Zambia, Zambian Breweries, the main sponsors of the tournament, wrote to the Castle Sevens organising committee informing them the company was not ready to sponsor the tournament this year.
“The tournament won’t take off. Zambian Breweries wrote to the organising committee to state their position. They said they will be ready to sponsor it next year,” an unnamed source told the Times of Zambia.
The tournament had initially been scheduled for May, but the Zambian government wanted to use the same venue, the Lusaka Showgrounds, for hosting the Africa Day celebrations.
The Zambians then moved it to September 7 and 8 at the same venue in Lusaka.
The Cheetahs are the most successful country in the history of the tournament having won it five years in a row, with their last victory at the regional tournament coming in 2011.
Should the Castle Sevens tournament fail to take place, it would mean that the Cheetahs will have just one tournament before their first IRB World Sevens Series assignment in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from December 7 to 8.
The Cheetahs are expected to feature in the Middleburg Sevens which will run from September 20 to 23.
The Middleburg tournament’s previous editions attracted top teams such as the South Africa, Wales, Namibia and a host of South African provincial teams.
Nyamutsamba said he was yet to hear any new developments on the Castle Sevens and the Middleburg Sevens, but was hoping to use the regional tournaments to try out some new players.
“I’m still awaiting the confirmation of the dates for the two tournaments from the union, but we are going to use them to try out some new players as we look to rebuild for the future. There are a few upcoming players that we have identified that we would want to look at, but they will play alongside the seasoned players who have been with the team,” Nyamutsamba added.