By Confidence Musariri WINDHOEK One of the country’s oldest rugby clubs, the Western Suburbs Rugby Club, has undertaken to assist the national rugby union to revive local interest in the sport by co-ordinating a number of tournaments. Active rugby at home has seen a nose-dive since the national team lifted the African Cup two years ago and chairman of the Western Suburbs Rugby Club , Keith Allies, says his club will not let the sport go down the drain. Allies said Suburbs, which recently conducted the national club championships where all the 13 regions in the country were represented by several clubs, would do more to work with the administration of the Namibia Rugby Union’s new CEO, Christo Alexander. Despite his club falling 6-3 in the final to United Rugby Club, Suburbs were happy with the participation of other clubs in the tournament. “We managed to identify talent in Namibia and now we are working with the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) to prepare for the 2007 World Cup qualifying matches against Tunisia and Kenya,” said Allies. Western Suburbs has spotted 15 “quality players” from the recent championships and the players will now form the Western Suburbs Barbarians which will play against the national team that lost 24-7 to Tunisia last June. “It is from there where players will fight for the jerseys of the national team because as it stands there has never been any competition for one to claim a national team position,” noted the Suburbs chairman. Namibia’s national rugby team ‘The Welwitschias’ complicated their situation by losing to Tunisia in the World Cup qualifier. The team is scheduled to face Kenya on September 2 in Nairobi before hosting Tunisia on September 30. “The national team still has enough time to prepare and we are going to assist in capacity building,” said Allies. The 28-year-old Windhoek club will be hosting another regional Under 21 championship where the best players will be selected to play Botswana’s Under 21s in a curtain-raiser match before the Tunisia encounter. “The NRU cannot do everything, we as clubs are part of the national team and as Suburbs we are also targeting the prospects of making this Under 21 tournament a feeder to the national team. “We do not have an Under 21 league, like they have in other countries, but we have resourced to get the youngsters. Namibian rugby is on a rebuilding path and everyone needs to come aboard with whatever they have.” Western Suburbs are also the architects of the Windhoek Lager Rugby Club regional championship, where they provide transport allowances for clubs to attend the competition. The chairman of Western Suburbs has however lashed out at certain detractors who turn down invitations to attend these tournaments “without valid reasons”. Allies shrugs off the idea that his club has a lot of sponsorship and maintains that it is the administration part of the club that makes it successful. With the average player being 23 years old at Western Suburbs, the club takes pride in being the only club cherishing a vast cultural diversity. “Rugby is known to be a sport of certain sections of the society, but if you look at our dressing room, you will be surprised. We have almost all the ethnic groups and tribes of Namibia at our sports club,” boasts Allies. Despite narrowly losing out to United at the club championships in Windhoek recently, Western Suburbs won a total of 12 trophies between August 2005 and August 2006. Their strength has been evolving around scrum-half Kokki Mungundi, whom Allies rates as currently the best rugby player in the land. The club also boasts with two teams, one in the first league and the other in the premier league. “We are not only aiming at creating an opportunity for players to perform we are looking for competition. It is our desire that, since the Namibian scene is almost getting exhausted, we would want to have a SADC regional rugby tournament like the Cosafa in football. We have players from Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, but we now want to play their countries at a higher level and that’s our call to sports sponsors. Have a Cosafa of rugby,” Allies advised. The reigning 7-aside champions, Suburbs have been invited to play in the club championships in Cape Town this November. “It is important that we reach out beyond the borders, as Western Suburbs,” urges Allies.
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