Zimbabwe’s World Cup team gave an early warning of their strength as they defeated a South African team three nil in a test series. Though it was not the actual South African World Cup team it was still a strong side featuring 8 players who have all been capped by their country before, including all three Van Wyks and Howie Baker (who played for Zimbabwe at the last two World Cups).
Zimbabwe won the three test matches on the 4th and 5th of June, which were held near Johannesburg, 26-19, 30-17 and 28-18. Though probably pundits would have predicted a Zimbabwe win, the winning margins are reasonably large and will probably cause some nervous moments amongst the other World Cup countries, especially Australia, New Zealand and Zambia who have the pleasure of Zimbabwe in the group stages.
Of the three, New Zealand will probably have the most to worry about. Zambia have played Zimbabwe a number of times over the last few years in the annual ZimZam challenge and will already know how good they are. Australia, as the reigning double world champions will probably feel they can defeat anyone, and even if Zimbabwe did defeat them they should beat New Zealand and Zambia to guarantee at least second spot in the group. For New Zealand it is a different matter, they are in the tougher of the two groups and aware that they need to probably beat Zambia and then one of Australia or Zimbabwe to go through to the semi finals. If both teams look strong there is a chance that New Zealand, who slipped from second to fourth in the last world cup, could fail to make the semi finals for the first time.
In the other group the UK as hosts and South Africa are probably favourites to go through to the semi finals, though Ireland and the USA will undoubtedly want to cause an upset, and the prospect of having to choose between a semi final against the double world champions or an in form Zimbabwe side is not an attractive one.
Andy “Crunchie” Baker
Attie Van Wyk
Nico Van Vyk
Lee Ann Van Wyk
Elri Van der Mewre