Peter de Villiers defiant despite looming Gold Cup relegation

Zimbabwe celebrate a try in their Rugby Gold Cup game against Morocco. EPA/AARON UFUMELI

Zimbabwe's 14-18 loss to Tunisia on Saturday has left them facing the possibility of relegation from the elite Rugby Africa Gold Cup going into the last two rounds.The arrival of Peter de Villiers, it would seem, has fallen short of sparking the expected uptick in fortunes.

The former Springbok coach, however, remains upbeat even as his winless Sables sit precariously in third place with three points, ahead of fourth-placed Tunisia only on points difference.

Uganda are the bottom dwellers with no points yet after their opening two matches.

The Sables loss to Tunisia came a week after a similarly heartbreaking away defeat by Kenya Simbas.

Posting on his Twitter handle on Sunday, De Villiers put a positive spin on his team's performances in both encounters.

"It has been a hectic two weeks for us, we gave it our all in Kenya and the boys showed great improvement and gave Kenya a good run," he tweeted. "We had a bit of a hiccup to the start of our Tunisia leg of the tour, but the boys were ready for the game."

Indeed, there were phases where Zimbabwe looked headed for victory only to allow the opponent to come right back into it.

Kenya came from behind to steal victory with two tries at the death while, on Saturday, Zimbabwe squandered a 14-5 second-half lead to eventually lose 14-18. Tunisia also beat the Sables 31-23 last year and, on the face of it, De Villiers' presence seems to have made little impact.

Yet the South African is looking at the bigger picture, insisting there have been positives despite the piling losses.

"They now understand they are international players and need to let their game speak, overall I am happy with the performance from the boys and we just need to work on how to kill a team. We lost two games while we were in the lead so we are going to work on that. We are still in it," De Villiers added in a follow-up tweet.

Zimbabwe, who drew with Morocco in their opening match, will make the tricky trip to Uganda when the fixtures resume in August. They conclude their campaign at home against Namibia.

De Villiers will now look to inspire his team to victory against Uganda, who themselves will be determined to also register their first win against a team they beat 38-12 last season. Anything other than victory for the Sables in Kampala would make the prospect of relegation a real possibility.

Zimbabwe survived the drop by the skin of their teeth last year, finishing second bottom with six points after only one victory.