Our rugby lags tougher international friendlies

THE international rugby match between the country’s senior national team and the Isuzu Southern Kings  played over the past weekend and although Namibia came out victorious there is simply no spark in the build up towards the Tokyo World Rugby Cup.

Namibians generally – and more importantly the local rugby fans – needed by now to have been treated to full blown rugby action with our Welwitschias taking on the very best in world rugby.

During a press briefing by the Namibia Rugby Limited (NRL) towards the end of last year, we were informed of a possible international friendly match against South Africa’s Springboks, but to date nothing has been communicated nor reasons given as to why we did not lock horns with the Bokke.

I don’t know why there seems to be a lot of secrecy when comes to information pertaining to the national senior rugby team’s preparations for Japan. I personally requested an interview through the NRL spokesperson and called the NRL offices, but never got anywhere close to an interview.

It’s not always the media’s fault, the NRL and the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) must shoulder some blame for not readily availing information to the public through the local media houses. We needed a regular briefing on the senior rugby team’s progress, but eish, getting the correct information is a mission in itself.

Though we have qualified for the world spectacle we still need to record a victory and that will not come on a silver platter if we invite minnows for international friendly matches against our boys.

Namibia is placed in what I term “the group of death” with the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Canada and I have a question specifically on the standard of our preparations, yes they attended the high performance training in South Africa recently but having international friendly matches for Davies’ charges was imperative. We needed to play against stronger rugby nations, not clubs from South Africa.

The NRU established the NRL as the union’s business arm to source funds but yet again in terms of information sharing, its affairs are opaque, as we know little to nothing of the funds raised or any local World Cup related news…

I don’t even know when the team will officially leave for Japan, let alone anything about the official send-off ceremony, and if they will have international friendly matches prior to the global rugby contest.

Interestingly, I watched how the South African Springboks were celebrated during their official send-off. The public was invited and the event was televised live – treatment that I doubt will be emulated here.

It’s Rugby World Cup for goodness sake, but as far as I can see there is no spark whatsoever, yet we expect our boys to compete and not be mere participants. I know we can give countries like Canada and Italy a run for their money had we played more friendly matches with highly competitive countries set to take part in the Tokyo Rugby World Cup. How can we let the team take on two stronger nations in Japan if we had only a handful of international friendly matches to prepare them, and if our objective is to actually a record our very first victory?

I don’t want to be pessimistic about our chances but the preparations of our national rugby team for the World Cup appear highly questionable, but I remain hopeful that Phil Davies and his entire technical staff have the clarity of vision and necessary ammunition to take on the very best in world rugby.

Let me also wish the boys the best of luck. For sure, as Namibians we are 100 percent behind you and sincerely hope that there will be supporters travelling to Tokyo to rally behind our squad.