ZIMBABWE rugby team arrived in Siberia yesterday morning and held their first training session later in Krasnoyarsk ahead of their crucial 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifier against Russia on Saturday.
It was a gruelling two-day, 36-hour journey for the Sables as it took them through three countries — Johannesburg, Holland and Russia — before connecting to the Siberian the town of Krasnoyarsk.
Sables team manager Brighton Chivandire yesterday told NewsDay Sport from Siberia that despite the taxing journey, the players were in high spirits and had settled well in that country.
“We arrived in the morning and the boys are settling well. We held our first training session and everyone is looking forward to the match,” Chivandire said.
The one-off match — the first ever meeting between the two countries in 15s rugby — will take place on Saturday 2 August.
On the same day, Asia qualification runner-up Hong Kong will play the second team in South America, Uruguay, in Montevideo.
A place in the two-legged play-off (Repechage) final awaits the winner of both matches as the race to secure at place at England 2015 reaches its climax.
Details of these matches will be announced in due course.
The winner of the play-off will join Australia, England, Wales and Fiji in Pool A of Rugby’s pinnacle tournament next year.
Speaking before the team’s departure for Siberia, lock forward Fortune Chipendu said he was confident the Sables would qualify for the World Cup.
“With what’s at stake, we need to go to Russia and win. They might be bigger than us, but we have never played them so as far as I’m concerned, they are not ranked above us at all. The team is ready and confident we will win this,” Chipendu said.