Zimbabwe: Turmoil in Cheetahs Camp

WHILE Zimbabwe plunge into action today against Mexico, in their opening encounter at the Tokyo Olympics Sevens Rugby final qualifier in Monaco, it has emerged all is not well in the Cheetahs camp.

Questions have been raised on how senior players were left out of the final squad which travelled to Monaco.

Zimbabwe will field an inexperienced team and, with a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, at stake, this has raised some eyebrows.

A number of senior players, including captain Stephan Hunduza, were left out of the Cheetahs squad.

Boyd Rouse has been appointed to lead Zimbabwe at the Olympics qualifier.

He is leading a team full of youngsters, most of whom have never played this version of the game, at international level.

Zimbabwe take on Mexico on today, face Ireland, Samoa and Tonga tomorrow.

Some of the senior players are said to have pulled out in solidarity with how Hunduza was allegedly mistreated, by being dropped, for reasons not clearly explained.

They wrote a letter to the Zimbabwe Sevens technical team, to express their reservations, over what they believe were unjust practices.

Zambia-based Hunduza attended final training camp, from June 6-13, despite having been informed, on June 4, he had been relegated to a non-travelling reserve.

"Lastly, not in our lifetime and in yours too, (we would presume), have we ever had the captain degraded to such levels before, to the extent whereby 'management' can freely express his ousting on the field for no particular reason (known to us that is).

"Such undermining of that prestigious position does not help him take charge of the team, especially when done in the eyes of the rookies," read part of the letter from the senior players.

The players made it clear they were not seeking to influence team selection but were not pleased by the lack of transparency from the team management.

Coach Daniel Hondo seems not to be in charge of the team, if players' claims are true. The players said whoever was in control of the team was not working in the best interests of the Cheetahs brand.

Besides Rouse, only Kudzai Mashawi, Godknows Mavara, Brandon Boshi, Nelson Madida, Shingirai Katsvere, Martin Mangongo, have tasted international action, with the Cheetahs, before.

In reality, only Rouse and Madida can be called experienced, as the rest are still novices, in the shorter version of the game.

Sam Phiri, Munopa Muneta, Ryan Musumhi, Godfrey Magaramombe and Munesu Muneta will make their international debut in Monaco.

Biselele Tshamala, Connor Pritchard, Tapiwa Tsomondo, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Ngoni Chibuwe, Katsvere, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Njabulo Ndlovu, Hilton Mudariki, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Hunduza, Riaan O'Neill, Martin Mangongo and Tarisai Mugariri helped secure qualification for Monaco.

The Cheetahs finished third at the 2019 Rugby Africa Men's Sevens, held in South Africa.

Ndlovu is the only one who has officially retired.

Chitokwindo, Tshamala, O'Neill, Hunduza, were called up for last month's Rugby Africa Solidarity Cup in South Africa.

The Zimbabwe Rugby Union did not respond to written questions.

Zimbabwe Cheetahs squad

Boyd Rouse (captain), Sam Phiri, Godfrey Magaramombe, Kudzai Mashawi, Nelson Madida, Munopa Muneta, Ryan Musumhi, Godknows Mavara, Shingirai Katsvere, Martin Mangongo, Munesu Muneta, Brandon Boshi

Coach: Daniel Hondo

Physiotherapist: Margaret Gibson

Team manager: Keegan Cooke

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