Diergaardt regrets turning down Kenya job


FORMER coach of the senior men rugby team Welwitschias, Johan Diergaardt, who helped University of Namibia (UNAM) win the Namibia Rugby Premier League (NRPL) last Saturday, has said that he regrets not taking up the Kenya men rugby side job in 2019 after he was given an offer.

Instead, Diergaardt chose the Welwitschias job for a second time, a position that only lasted for nine months.

It was also Diergaardt’s second stint at the helm of the senior national team, with his first tenure resulting in the 2010 International Rugby Board (IRB) Nations Cup glory and qualification to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Speaking to Confidente Sport after helping UNAM claim their fourth title since 2017, Diergaardt said even though he chose his family over the Kenya job, he still regrets turning down the job.

A father of three daughters and grandfather to one, Diergaardt is a property developer in Windhoek.

“I spoke to the Kenya Rugby Union and I was interviewed for the job, but at the same time I was also given the Welwitschias job. I chose the Welwitschias job because of family commitment, and my wife had a good job, while my daughter is a medical student, so I did not want to interrupt them.

“I thought the Welwitschias job was the best offer, but it was not after the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) wanted me to do what they wanted instead of me doing my coaching job.

“I really regret not taking up the Kenya job since it was a new environment, new challenge and nobody knows me there in Kenya,” he said.

Diergaardt, who also led Western Suburbs to league glory in 2008, does not rate himself as the best local coach.

He might have not made it big in his playing days, both at his boyhood club Suburbs and at international level due to lack of opportunities given to black players at the time, but Diergaardt has developed into one of the country’s best local coaches.

He is one of the few qualified rugby local coaches in the country as he holds a World Rugby Level three coaching certificate.

“No, no I cannot rate myself as the best coach, but if people think I am the best coach then let them decide so.

“All I do as a coach is to inspire players and to develop players so that they become better persons in life,” said Diergaardt.

Asked if Saturday’s triumph was his best moment in his managerial career, the coach said the 2016 league title was the best.

“In 2016 we went the whole season unbeaten. I can say that 2016 was the best moment in my coaching career. This is just the beginning of a new era at UNAM,” said Diergaardt.

His trademark: When on the touchline, he hardly smiles but after the final whistle he always has a big smile on his face.