Where to for the Welwitschias?

Michael Uugwanga

WHERE to now for the Welwitschias after the World Cup and the appointment of its new interim coach, Johan Diergaardt, who took over the reins from Welsh coach Phil Davies, who found it very tough to continue coaching the national team after five years at the helm.

Diergaardt’s appointment is a debatable one, as we all know that the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) and the Namibia Rugby Limited (NRL) are trying to show the nation that a local coach is capable of leading the team to greater heights, while deep inside the NRU and NRL it seems somewould prefer a foreign coach.

The mistake the NRU and NRL previously made was not to include any Namibian coach as assistant to Davies at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which would have been of great benefit to local coaches to learn some of the techniques that Davies espoused.

I have no problem with Diergaardt, whom I highly rate as one of the best in the business, but I am just worried that he will not be a long-term coach for the team, especially when it comes to the World Cup, where it seems the NRU has the tendency to appoint a foreign coach a few months or weeks before the event.

Danie Vermeulen is one example, although he was removed on allegations of racial discrimination. The mistake the NRU made was to overlook other top local coaches, such as Jood Opperman, Diergaardt, Vince Dreyer or JP Nel.

If we are changing coaches after every World Cup, how can we expect Namibia to excel at that level of international competition if we cannot even keep a coach at two consecutive World Cup tournaments.

Davies guided Namibia to the 2015 World Cup, a few months after former coach Vermeulen was fired from his post on allegation of racial discord, despite guiding Namibia to the global showpiece.

The NRU and NRL could have persuaded Davies to stay for another five years, whereby he would be assisted by two local coaches, who would have been his right-hand men to take over after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

For all I know, even if Diergaardt is to get the job on a full-time basis and manages to guide Namibia to the big showdown in 2023, NRU will look to appoint a foreign coach with the help of World Rugby, which also has a final say.

Since Davies is now completely out of the picture, I would urge the NRU to appoint two local coaches and a foreign technical director to assist with the development of rugby at grassroots level.

Corrie Mensah (president of the NRU), it is about time that the NRU starts planning for next year, as most – if not all – World Cup participants at this year’s tournament have already released fixtures of their test matches for 2020, while we are not yet sure if we will be playing rugby matches next year, although there is the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, a competition for amateur players, but we want to know about test matches for Namibia going foward.

The Gold Cup is slated for next year and I think the NRU should prioritise that tournament as a stepping stone. And as a big fan of Diergaardt, I would like him to lead the team into the Gold Cup, as he has in the past already proven himself to be one of the best in the business.

Let’s not forget, that he is to date the only coach to have won a major cup for Namibia, the International Rugby Board (IRB) Nations Cup in 2010.