In a week dominated by off field drama in which the Zimbabwe Sables opted to sleep in the streets in protest over a substandard hotel provided by hosts Tunisia, the two countries clash in potentially explosive Gold Cup rugby tie at Béja’s, Stade Municipal Boujemaa Kmiti this afternoon.
Never mind that victory is of paramount important for both teams as they bid to rescue their World Cup mission, this has been fuelled more by the accommodation debacle that culminated in a social media war between the sides for the better part of the week.
The Sables, smarting from a heartbreaking 45-36 defeat to Kenya in Nairobi last Saturday, arrived in Tunisia on Monday night but did not like the conditions of the hotel they were checked into and slept in the streets.
It was only the following morning that the problem was fixed, with Tunisia Rugby issuing an apology insisting it was not to unsettle the opponents.
But then they made a summersault the following day, where they castigated their Southern Africa visitors for what they described as “anti-sports and unethical actions by the Zimbabwean delegation.”
The two teams last met in the Gold Cup in July last year in Harare with Tunisia emerging 31-23 victors.
In the competition that acts as a the 2019 IRB World Cup qualifier, Zimbabwe lie fourth on a six-team log with just two points from as many matches while the hosts are rock bottom having played a single match and lost.
Namibia are threatening to run away with the sole ticket as they top the standing with 15 points with Kenya, who have a game in hand, chasing on eight points.
Kenya will be looking to reduce Namibia’s lead when they host Uganda in another interesting Gold Cup fixture.
Meanwhile, Sables forward Farai Mudariki has joined Worcester from French club Stado Tarbes Pyrenees.
Mudariki is the 11th signing so far for the Warriors and will arrive at Sixways next month after the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which is a 2019 World Cup qualifier.
The 23-year-old will join the likes of Michael Fatialofa, Callum Black, Cornell du Preez and Issac Miller in the Worcester pack for this upcoming season as Director of Rugby Alan Solomons bolsters his forward options.
Solomons told the club’s website: “I’m very happy with the shape of our squad for the 2018/19 campaign. We have plenty of strength in depth and I’m genuinely excited about next season.”