U19 Comfortable with Preparations

0
12

By Confidence Musariri The national Under 19 rugby team bound for the IRB Under 19 World Championships in Dubai this Easter are limbering up with ease, New Era can reveal. Despite little knowledge of their first opponents Canada, on April 4, team manager Gabriel Tjombe is defiant that if preparations remain this high, the young Welwitschias will scale high at the 24 nations tourna-ment. The 26 selected players resume fitness practice tomorrow under the watchful eye of coach Riaan Jantjies before a friendly game with a Western Suburbs select 15 on Saturday. “We have had the benefit of getting the support of the clubs and that has upped the tempo within the camp,” noted Tjombe. The team, comprising of 10 black players, a rare sight in the past, will have the privilege of being hosted by Kudu Rugby Club in Walvis Bay where more funds for the team shall be raised in Walvis Bay. A whopping sponsorship is believed to be in the pipeline for Jantjies’ lads any day soon while the sports commission has been approached to pay nearly N$170 000 for the team’s current preparations in the country. Namibia have high chances of pummelling relatively unknown sides, as they enjoy the absence of defending World Champions South Africa in their pool. The Baby Boks will open their campaign against France and play England in the pool stages of a group that includes second seeds New Zealand, Wales and Australia. Division B top seeds Georgia will be Namibia’s second engagement before Chile, and Tjombe says victory in the first two matches will guarantee the Wel-witschias a place in the top six. Other teams in Division B are Uruguay, Italy, Tonga, Korea, Chile, Fiji, Russia and Chinese Taipei. “Chile beat Namibia before I took up this job and they have not been consistent over the years,” said Jantjies, choosing to play his cards close to his chest. Namibia will bank on the presence of South Afri- can based flank Robert Schaaf and tough-tackling hooker Egbertus O’Callaghan, who are also part of the 26s. The bulk of the team played together in the Under 18 side last year. There are no surprise inclusions or omissions in the squad as most of the players have come through the ranks. Neighbouring South Africa won the 2005 Under 19 World Championships edition, rounding off a brilliant campaign with a tense 20-15 victory over New Zealand at the ABSA Stadium in Durban last year.