Namibia are four points ahead of Kenya with a superior points difference heading into the decisive match in Windhoek (KO 16:00 local time) and a bonus point will be enough to claim the Rugby Africa Gold Cup title and a place in Pool B at Japan 2019 alongside New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the repechage winner.
The loser on Saturday will remain in Rugby World Cup 2019 contention, but will need to win November’s repechage in Marseille where they will meet Canada, Hong Kong and Germany.
In the weekend’s other match, Uganda defeated Morocco 47-29, but Kenya’s bonus point win win ended Ugandan hopes of a repechage place
World Rugby will be providing LIVE streaming of the decisive Namibia v Kenya match on Saturday across its digital and social channels.
Desperate to keep their Rugby World Cup hopes alive Zimbabwe welcome Namibia to the newly renovated Hartsfield Grounds in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Zimbabwe has begun its 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign on a lukewarm note with a draw and two consecutive losses away, leaving them in a precarious fourth place out of six teams.
The point hungry Sables have been in camp for a week with minor changes to the training squad which include the infusion of three Cheetahs, returning from Zimbabwe’s Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign in San Francisco.
Shayne Makombe and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo have been added to the backline whilst Connor Pritchard assumes his place as a flank.
Chitokwindo and Makombe were responsible for Zimbabwe’s first burst of tries in their opening match against Wales at the RWC Sevens.
Germany based lock, Antipas Kamkwindo will be joining the team, replacing Johannes Stander.
In the lead up to their next fixture, the Sables coach Peter de Villiers has roped in Harare Sports Club (HSC) head coach Daniel Hondo as the backline coach.
Hondo, a former Sable & Cheetah in his time, said: “We’re not doubting the players that have been playing rather, it’s an opportunity for us to see what other players have to offer for our game on Saturday.
“Namibia remains unchallenged in the competition and we hope we will be the team that puts pressure on them.”
The HSC coach has successfully mentored his club into qualifying for the upcoming SARU Gold Cup.
On Sunday the team broke camp to allow players to travel to their respective polling stations ahead of Zimbabwe’s election
The team is scheduled to reassemble in Bulawayo Monday evening.
The twenty-six men presently in camp for the Namibia fixture are: Denford Mutamangira, David Makanda, Farai Mudariki, Irvine Nduwa, Fortunate Chipendo, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Connor Pritchard, Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, Ernest Mudzengerere, Lenience Tambwera, Mathew McNab, Brandon Mandivenga, Kudzai Mashawi, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Shingirai Katsvere, Mathew Mandioma, Cleopas Kundiona, Lawrence Cleminson, Antipas Kamkwindo, Brian Nyaude, Hilton Mudariki, Ziyanda Khupe, Shayne Makombe, Tafadzwa Mhende, Lucky Sithole and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo.
Zimbabwe’s next fixture in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup is scheduled for August 18 when they take on the Cranes in Uganda.
Former New Zealand wing Piutau hopes a change to eligibility rules will allow him to represent the country of his parents’ birth, Tonga, at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The 26-year-old won 16 New Zealand caps, but relinquished his chance to secure further All Blacks selection when heading overseas to Wasps in 2015.
Now Piutau believes he has spent long enough in the Test wilderness to qualify to step down to represent Tier Two nation Tonga – and he has the backing of Pacific Rugby Players’ Welfare (PRPW).
“I’d love nothing more than to be able to represent Tonga at the next World Cup,” Piutau told Press Association Sport.
“I’ve expressed my desire to do that previously, but so far there has been no word about whether that would be possible.
“I’m holding out hope that it can still happen, but obviously the longer that goes on without any suggestion of the rulings changing, then the less likely that becomes.”
Tonga could exploit a loop hole in World Rugby's regulations and have the World's most expensive player at the 2019 RWC 😲— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) November 29, 2017
Who would you like Piutau to play for? 🤔
📰| https://t.co/FVHOIXkgof pic.twitter.com/H8MwNJH0bI
Piutau turned out for Tonga at under-20s level before representing New Zealand, while his brother Siale has 34 caps for Tonga.
Former Ulster wing Piutau will add an extra layer of threat to Bristol’s star-studded return to the Premiership this coming season.
But he is also part of a group of Pacific Islanders wanting to switch Test allegiance in time for the next Rugby World Cup.
Chief executive Dan Leo confirmed PRPW is pushing for a change to the eligibility rules, to help boost smaller nations.
Leo explained that PRPW believes capped Test players should be allowed to return to represent a lower-tier nation of their heritage – but only after a three-year cooling-off period featuring no international action.
“World Rugby have spent a lot of time fine-tuning their policy over residency qualifications,” Leo said.
“But we would like to see regulations brought in where players who qualify for more than one nation and have been capped for Tier One teams can then – after a suitable cooling-off period – be allowed to represent another Test team from a lower tier.
“We’re not looking at top stars of the game in their prime, we’re looking at guys who perhaps have a handful of caps for a Tier One nation, have then moved abroad, and years later want to represent a Tier Two nation through their heritage.
Piutau, one of the Fainga'a twins & others are wanting to play for the Ikale Tahi for the RWC in 2019 🙌 I love it !!— A 💫 (@_nfifita) November 29, 2017
“So guys like Charles Piutau fall into that category.
“The impact the availability of big stars like Charles could have for Pacific Island nations would be huge.
“There’s no policy that allows players in those situations to go back, and we need that established if those nations are really going to be able to progress.
“We’d like these guys to be available for the coming World Cup. It’s probably touch-and-go now timing-wise, but I’d imagine we could get the ball rolling on that quite quickly.”