Affectionately known as the Lady Cheetahs, Zimbabwe, who were drawn in Pool A, open their campaign against the South Africans at 11am ahead of two more tough pool matches against Namibia (1pm) and Senegal (320pm) ahead of the finals at the same venue tomorrow.
The other pool comprises of Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tunisia.
Zimbabwe coach Abigail Kawonza told NewsDay Sport yesterday that she expected a tough task against the Springbok Women’s Sevens, who have won the continental title a record five times in 2014, 2011, 2008, 2007 and 2006.
Nevertheless, while admitting that their opponents were far superior on paper, Kawonza said she was still optimistic that her charges would put up a brave fight as they look to build a strong squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers.
“The match against South Africa will be tough, but I’m sure we will be able to match them physically as we have a number of experienced players in our side. South Africa are way ahead of us, they’ve really invested in women’s rugby as a nation and they are exposed to more tournaments than us while our side is still developing.
“Our main focus is to build a side for the Olympic qualifiers in three years’ time and that’s why we have tried to come up with a good balance between the experienced core players and the youngsters from the successful Under-18 squad,” Kawonza said.
Eight African nations will battle it out for the continental crown in the two-day tournament where a slot in next year’s World Rugby Women Sevens Series qualifiers will be at stake for the winners.
Botswana and Zambia, the bottom two sides in last year’s competition, are excluded from this year’s tournament after Rugby Africa made it an eight-team tournament, down from the 10 that competed last year.
South Africa won the 2015 edition of the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens that doubled as Olympics qualifiers by beating Kenya 31-7 in Johannesburg, while Zimbabwe settled for fourth position after a 33-0 defeat to Tunisia in the 3rd/4th place playoff match.
Zimbabwe Squad for Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens: Charity Muchuchuti (captain), Precious Marange, Peace Sithole, Carol Malenga, Rumbi Chigumba, Constance Ngwende, Sicelumusa Nyoni, Ruvimbo Musere, Margret Magwaro, Hilda Marange, Simbisai Kadye, Delight Mukomondo.