x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Love is in the air for Leitao

Jacques Leitao, the Zimbabwe captain, will be heading back to his troubled country with a Bowl-winners medal from the World Cup Sevens - and a fiancee.

Jacques Leitao, the Zimbabwe captain, will be heading back to his troubled country with a Bowl-winners medal from the World Cup Sevens - and a fiancee. Leitao scored the winning try in their final against Ireland last night, then proposed to his girlfriend in front of 32,500 people midway through Zimbabwe's lap of honour. Victory laps can rarely have been as well-merited. With the poor economic conditions in Zimbabwe, 'The Cheetahs' struggled to afford food in the lead-up to the tournament. Water was also scarce due to the cholera outbreak.

They won the final 17-14, with tries from Cleopas Maktose, Gerald Sibanda and Leitao's late decider. Danny Hondo, whose brother Dougie played Test cricket for Zimbabwe, says this achievement will earn him some much-needed family bragging rights. "I hope this does [grant him some recognition] as every time I play I am always referred to as, 'Danny Hondo, brother of Dougie Hondo'. "Our preparations have actually been better than ever. Everything has been organised so much better than before.

"We are so happy, hey? I can't describe how good it feels. We set ourselves a target of winning a medal, and we have done it. I am so happy for everyone who played in this tournament." Liam Middleton, the victorious coach, added: "The feeling is indescribable. In the tournament as a whole, but particularly the final, the pressure is huge, and I can't describe how it feels to win it." Reaching the final of the consolation competition was deemed a minor success by the Irish, who have not played on the IRB Series for years and remain sevens novices.

The Ireland coach, Jon Skurr, said: "In our eyes, we have achieved. From going from having no sevens experience to this represents achievement." pradley@thenational.ae