The Cyprus Moufflons meet the Andorran Chamois – both mountain sheep – on Saturday evening in the mountainous principality situated between France and Spain.
At this time of year the main activity is usually skiing, but the heat will be turned up for this meeting of the two countries languishing without a win this season at the foot of the newly-formed European Conference South Division 1.
The sides have met twice before with honours even. As part of the now defunct European Nations Cup Division 2, each country claimed victory on their home turf.
However, there is bad blood between them: the Andorran side that lost 30-10 at the Paphiacos Stadium vowed revenge when the Moufflons showed up in the Pyrenees.
The fiery Andorrans, composed of Spanish and French second division players, won 22-13 to avenge their loss in Cyprus.
Now in the new division they share with leaders Malta, Israel and Croatia, the loser of this game is likely to be relegated – which in the case of Cyprus could prove most interesting, as Conference Division 2 South contains neighbours Turkey.
Cyprus have been in training camp in Barcelona since Wednesday under the tutelage of Andrew Barnett, deputy to the national coach Andy Binicos, who is unavailable following his recent appointment to the Natal Sharks junior academy in South Africa.
Laurence Vassiliades, Cyprus Rugby Federation president, stated: “I don’t have to tell you how important this game is, it’s not exactly a play-off match, but it might prove to be at the end of the season.
“However, this is one of the strongest sides we have sent into Europe and contains some real talent: Chris Dicomidis, the Cardiff Blues number 8 is with us in the second row, along with our new boy, Stefan Yarrow, who plays for Stirling in the BT Premiership in Scotland, as well as Fidias and Marco, our captain, who missed the last game, and our French wanderer, Renno.
“I feel quietly confident, because we are fielding a well-drilled side that is determined come away with a victory. Not only do we have an excellent team, but also a very experienced bench. The team spirit is inspiring.”
Scrum magazine reported that Yarrow, the new cap, will be accompanied by his Cypriot parents, grandparents and siblings.
The Moufflons will greatly benefit from the return of Torgut, their Turkish Cypriot scrum-half, but also from his pairing with the mercurial Holden, the country’s top scorer.
The kick-off is at 6pm in the Andorran National Stadium and while the temperature will be hovering around freezing, the heat on the pitch will be turned right up.