Jantjies waves farewell to rugby
THANK you Eugene Jantjies for what you have contributed to Namibian rugby as you finally call it a day after appearing at four successive World Cup tournaments with the Welwitschias. You richly deserve a legendary status within the annals of the Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) history and we will forever remember you.
You deserve a proper sending off from the NRU, who should organise a test match against an African country before December or early next year because you needed to play your final match against Canada, which was a match that every Namibian fan was looking forward to in Pool B, but because of Typhoon Hagibis the match had to be cancelled.
I remember interviewing you about your future in rugby in 2017 and last year you told me you would make a decision on your future after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, you finally made up your mind after 15 years playing competitive rugby, first at your boyhood rugby club Western Suburbs, where you played between 2004 and 2007, before going on to play professional rugby at Farul Constanta in Romania in the Romanian Rugby Championship from 2008 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2014.
Perhaps for me your best moment was when you helped Namibia win the International Rugby Board (IRB) Nations Cup in 2010 in Romania under the guidance of legendary local coach Johan Diergaardt.
Jantjies in my own opinion was supposed to have been awarded at the Namibia Annual Sports Awards that were held on 26 October in Ondangwa, where athletes were honoured for outstanding performances over the last 18 months.
I believe Jantjies deserves to be recognized for his loyalty and for being there, even when many people expressed doubt about his inclusion in this year’s World Cup.
At 33, having played 68 international matches and scoring 77 points for Namibia, Jantjies perhaps made the right decision to focus more on other ventures and to consider coaching one of the local clubs due to the vast experience he gained throughout the years.
It will take many years for Namibia to recruit another Jantjies, who was influential in the dressing room and helped players like Cliven Loubser and Damien Stevens develop into top players. No wonder Loubser and Stevens were first to pay tribute to the now retired scrum-half on his Facebook page.
We have many sport legends who have contributed meaningfully to sport in this country and Jantjies is certainly one of those legends. I therefore advise those spearheading sport in Namibia to consider honouring Jantjies with a token of appreciation, as he has set a superb example of grit and determination for upcoming and future rugby players.