Mensah blames predecessors for dead Sevens
By Michael Uugwanga
PRESIDENT of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) Corrie Mensah has blamed the previous regime for the absence of both men and women Rugby Sevens competitions despite Namibia’s men senior team being a regular participant at the world cup.
Mensah who has been in power since 2018 was talking to Confidente Sport recently in an exclusive interview when asked to why the country does not have Sevens rugby leagues for both men and women, like other African countries, despite the Welwitschias being regular participants at the Rugby World Cup.
“You should look at the history of Namibian rugby. People previously neglected our Sevens structures and if you look at our strategic plan it is something that we want to revamp. First of we want to start taking part in all Rugby Africa competitions and get into the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Division C, because if you see the quality of players that are playing at the Olympic Games you will start to feel sorry for yourself that you are not there and it is an unfortunate situation for us (sic).
“The other thing regarding the Sevens rugby is that it will cost us money, however with World Rugby and Rugby Africa when they come to your country they evaluate your progress and if they do not see any progress they give you a negative rating, so this eventually influences negatively your grants you receive from Rugby Africa or directly from World Rugby, because if they see you do not bother to develop those departments (Sevens and women rugby) they will not invest , so we seriously need to pay attention to the two,” said Mensah.
Namibia will also not be part of the Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers, even though the Rugby World Cup Sevens will be staged in neighbouring country South Africa next year.
Countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Madagascar and South Africa have formidable men and women Sevens teams that regularly compete both on continental and international levels unlike Namibia that is only known in the men’s 15s.
In 2019, Namibia men’s Sevens team came short of qualifying to the Olympic Games after finishing in fifth place in the African qualifier tournament that was held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
As a result, Kenya and South Africa booked their golden tickets to the Olympic Games, while fellow African countries Tunisia, Madagascar, Uganda and Zimbabwe who are no match for Namibia in the 15s, are set to take part in the Tokyo Olympics qualifying tournament in rugby Sevens, the World Rugby Sevens Repechage (play-offs), slated for next month in Monaco, France.
It also means that the NRU has also missed out on funding from Rugby Africa, International Olympic Committee (ICC) and World Rugby in that regard.
On the development of the women game, Mensah said that his office will be looking at introducing the Sevens rugby for women alongside that of men.
The women rugby league in the country naturally died in 2014.
“This year for the first time we will re-introduce the Sevens league for both men and women after the first round of the Namibia Rugby Premier League (NRPL), because it was totally neglected,” he said.