Massive investment needed in Nam rugby – Coetzee

By Michael Uugwanga

NEWLY appointed coach of the senior men rugby team, South Africa-born mentor Allister Coetzee has said that if Namibian rugby is to be at the same level as that of a tier one rugby playing nation it will require massive investment from both government and the private sector.
Coetzee, who was coach of South Africa’s Springboks between 2016 and 2018, was appointed Welwitschias coach last month.

Speaking to Confidente Sport, the soft-spoken Coetzee who started off his Welwitschias reign with a shock 24-13 defeat to Ivory Coast in Abidjan last month in the first round of the Rugby Africa Cup, said Namibia is still a way off in reaching the same level as that of South African rugby due to lack of funding towards domestic rugby competitions.
“I think it is unfair to compare because South Africa is a tier one rugby playing nation and obviously Namibia a tier two rugby playing nation, so resources wise there is a massive difference.

“Which means South Africa rugby consists of lots of rugby competitions, provisional franchises and those clubs also play in different rugby competitions outside South Africa against teams from Europe, New Zealand and Australia and they are now set to take part in the newly formed rugby competition called United Rugby Championship and this obviously plays a big role in the standard of the individual players, the standard of competitions and the top quality of players will be developed and that is what is lacking at the moment in Namibia.”
The Welwitschias have for many years been partaking in the South Africa’s premier club competitions such as the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and the Currie Cup, however in the past two years the team could not take part in the competitions mainly due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
“Namibia needs to get back into club competitions so that it gains a bit of exposure for example the Currie Cup,” said Coetzee.
After the defeat to Ivory Coast, the Welwitschias managed to bounce back a few days after with a convincing 52-10 win over Madagascar to keep their 2023 Rugby World Cup hope alive.

The win against Madagascar also saw Namibia qualifying to the top eight Rugby Africa final qualification tournament slated for next year.
“It was an eye opener for me being my first ever tour on the African continent as coach of a senior team. It was challenging from the start with a lot of logistical issues such as waiting for buses, training fields, with no lines and no rugby poles,” said Coetzee.

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The winner of the 2022 Rugby Africa tournament will automatically get a spot to the 2023 Rugby World Cup slated to take place in France.

South Africa are the current reigning champions of the Rugby World Cup.