The Sunday Mail
Deputy Sports Editor
THE Zimbabwe men’s Sevens’ team need not look further than coach Graham Kaulback in their search for that extra bit of inspiration ahead of their trip to Chile for the World Rugby Challenger Series.
With promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series up for grabs for the winners, there will be a lot of pressure on this young side, and who better to prepare them for the task that lies ahead than Kaulback himself?
After all, Kaulback has bled for the same cause countless times and knows the pain and heartbreak that comes with defeat.
It is a lesson that the former Cheetahs international has been teaching his charges ahead of the tournament slated for August 12 to August 14 in Santiago, Chile.
“I have spoken to the boys, trying to help them prepare, both physically and mentally, for the demands of a tournament like this.
“Over the last couple of weeks, we have also been doing some scenario training during our sessions,” he said.
“The hope is to prepare them for all the different scenarios that can happen at the back-end of games.
“Hopefully, if and when we get into any of those positions, we will be able to play the right options and deliver the goods.”
The Cheetahs have been in camp for the last couple of months in preparation for the Challenger Series and the Sevens World Cup.
Kaulback seems upbeat about their chances in both tournaments.
Familiarity is what the Cheetahs’ gaffer is banking on.
“The team is shaping up really well as we have a great bunch of guys who have been together for a very long time, and that is a huge positive for us.
“To have those guys playing together, feeding off each other is good for team chemistry, and that has only been strengthened by the Cheetahs’ training camps and our recent team-building trip to Nyanga,” said Kaulback.
“The last couple of weeks have served as our last conditioning block as we pushed the guys really hard so that we get their fitness levels up.
“We have ticked all the boxes on what we can do and I am happy with where the guys are.”
In Chile, the Cheetahs have been drawn in the same pool as Hong Kong, Tonga and Jamaica.
The tournament is a carbon copy of the Olympic Games.
The 12 participating teams will be drawn into three pools of four teams each for the group stages.
The top two teams from each group, alongside the two best third-place teams, will proceed to the next round, which will include the quarter-final, semi-final stages and the final.
The winner of the tournament will then gain automatic promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
After the Challenger Series, the Cheetahs will then turn their attention to the Rugby World Cup Sevens pencilled in for September 9 to September 11 in Cape Town, South Africa.
An opening tie against Canada awaits the Cheetahs in a new “winner takes all” knock-out format.
What this means is that tournament hopefuls will need to win every match if they entertain chances of being crowned champions.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens kicks off with the pre-round of 16 in which Zimbabwe face Canada, while Ireland, Samoa, Kenya, Scotland, Wales, Hong Kong and Germany square off against Portugal, Uganda, Tonga, Jamaica, Korea, Uruguay and Chile, respectively.