Aiming to win the sole ticket to become a core member, the Zimbabwe Sevens side are faced with a tough challenge in the 12-team competition that includes some of the former Sevens heavyweights.
Coach Daniel Hondo took with him a largely youthful side but veteran lock Fortune Chipendu was dropped at the end of their camp in Cape Town.
“Well, it’s good that we’ve a mixture of both young and old which is always needed in any team. Fortune is paving way for the upcoming guys. We know that Fortune can contribute but we also need to infuse new blood,” said Hondo.
Zimbabwe and Tunisia are the two African sides that made it for the tournament after finishing as the top two sides in the Africa Cup played last year at Prince Edward (outside Kenya and South Africa who play in the main tournament and are already core-members).
From South America comes Brazil and Uruguay who made it through to the 12-team event through the prestigious Vina del Mar Sevens in Chile.
Brazil underlined their growing status in Sevens with a 7-0 victory against the hosts and reigning champions Chile. They also beat Peru 61-0 but were edged out 5-0 by Uruguay in the match to decide top spot.
Uruguay brushed Peru aside 74-0 and drew 5-5 with Chile in their other fixtures.
The winner of the core team qualifier, which runs alongside the HSBC Sevens World Series round in Hong Kong, will join the World Series in 2015-16, the season that will lead up to Sevens’ debut at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The hosts Hong Kong have been drawn in Pool E where they will take on the two South American teams Uruguay and Brazil, and North Americans Mexico.
Russia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea and Tunisia are in Pool F while last year’s relegated side Spain, Zimbabwe, Tonga and Georgia complete Pool G.
The 12-team line-up in the qualifier comprises two teams from each of World Rugby’s six regional associations. The winner will earn core team status for 2015-16 and replace the lowest ranked side at the conclusion of the current series.
Japan won the qualifier in Hong Kong last year to join the series. Russia and Spain are the representatives from Europe, Papua New Guinea and Tonga from Oceania, Zimbabwe and Tunisia from Africa, Mexico and Guyana from North America and the Caribbean, Uruguay and Brazil from South America and hosts Hong Kong and Korea from Asia.
Jacques Leitao (captain), Biselele Tshamala, Njabulo Ndlovu, Boyd Rouse, Hilton Mudariki, Graham Kaulback, Stephan Hunduza, Shayne Makombe, Kilvan Magunje, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Kuda Chiwanza, Riaan O’Neill
Coach: Daniel Hondo
Assistant: John Ewing
Manager: Steve Macdonald