WINDHOEK – Former Namibian senior rugby team coach, Johan Diergaardt, has expressed serious concern about the general quality of local rugby.
Speaking to New Era Sport yesterday, Diergaardt said his successor Danie Vermeulen and the national selectors were not to be blamed for the team’s failure to beat rugby minnows Madagascar in the Confederation Africaine de Rugby (CAR) Division One-B Qualifiers in Antananarivo last weekend.
Diergaardt, a former player with Western Suburb, maintains that the current Namibian rugby system and inadequate funding is partly the reason for the Welwitschias’ uninspiring performances.
He also noted that the continuous dearth of much-needed experience and exposure among the current crop of players is also hampering progress.
For Diergaardt, one really sore point is the regular non-involvement of the senior side in competitive test rugby against respectable opponents and the relatively minimum action in the domestic league, which he says will always have a negative impact on the overall performance of the senior team and Namibian rugby in ge-neral.
“We also need to understand that African rugby has reached the peak and most countries have now become very competitive. So you just can’t take a horde of rusty and relatively inexperienced local players blended with about nine foreign-based players and expect them to go and win at that level. Our performance against the visiting South African students bears testimony to that.”
Diergaardt further advises that if Namibian rugby is to progress, the hierarchy of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) urgently needs to jack up their act and implement appropriate structures to ensure that the team competes more frequently in high-profile competitions such as the Currie Cup, the Vodacom Cup and other top level tournaments. Ii is only through that that the players will gain exposure and much needed game-time he believes.
“If the national selectors recall most of the players who competed in last year’s World Cup, I’m sure they will add more weight and value to the current squad, while the local players will also get to benefit through the senior players’ expertise. But with the lack of readily available funds to fly in those players, I guess that will only remain a dream,” concluded Diergaardt.