A bone to pick with Namibian rugby authorities

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IT is commendable that the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) Sybrand de Beer has admitted shortcomings in the current state of rugby to a certain degree.

By so doing De Beer includes his employer, the NRU Board and by extension, the clubs who are the real custodians of Namibia rugby. However, the crux of the matter is that the CEO and the current Board should not solely be blamed but equally so, their predecessors from whom the current executive inherited this mess.

To get back to the article that appeared in New Era on Monday under the heading: Shocking racial mix unearthed in Namibian rugby, please allow me to highlight a few points that were brought up by De Beer and his half-baked proposals.
“NRU will introduce tangible development programmes”

As far back as 1992 plans were set out to transform the game of rugby in Namibia but unfortunately the inked document has been gathering dust. Strangely, subsequent executives including the incumbent one dismally failed to put this plan in motion for reasons only known to themselves. Advise; dust it off and share your thoughts with the clubs and nation at large!
“Clubs obliged to have youth academies?”

This will remain a pipedream of epic proportions while local rugby clubs are struggling to make ends meet let alone honouring their league assignments. Without the required funds, clubs will never be able to sustain such undertakings unless the learned CEO tells us where the funding will come from.

“Transformation of rugby from white to brown”
To make such a silly statement is adding insult to injury. Truth be told, nobody but nobody whether it be at schools, academies, clubs or NRU for that matter can lay claim to this laughable statement.

For interest sake, the issue of coloured players is totally immaterial. It should be clearly understood that coloureds and blacks have always chased the oval ball since the 1890’s!

What transpired since 1994 and onwards was a natural progression through integration after Namibia’s independence in 1990. A quick glimpse at our junior and senior school teams would surely reveal a different picture. Statistics reveal that Namibia now boasts a staggering representation of slightly more than 70% black and brown rugby players.

Rugby clubs from the previously disadvantaged communities are well represented as justified by our demographic demarcation. Some clubs have a social demographical makeup consisting of white, black, coloured and Baster members while those occupied with dislocated consciousness remain stuck in the past.

“Mooted establishment of high performance programmes for junior rugby”
Great idea, but wait a minute! Just get the boys fully integrated into the current 7s rugby setup, national junior and senior teams’ programmes. Start with players from the age of 16 onwards and don’t reinvent the wheel!

I specifically chose not to mention the administrative side of things since the current situation is a shining example of a flawless administration cousined by competent officials, in fact a work in progress.
Rugby’s most essential asset is the players and clubs who should also partly take the blame with a pinch of salt and not expect to be spoon-fed by the NRU all the time.

Lastly, a quick visit into the legacies of previous presidents and their executives (as a contributing factor to the current situation).
Dirk Conradie: Was saddled with the most unenviable task of transforming rugby from the somewhat perception of a sacred white dominated code to an all-inclusive citizens’ one of the Land of the Brave. His uncompromising stance saw Namibia dispatching 19 players of colour to the IRB World Cup – indeed a healthy start.

Buks Bock: Club rugby blossomed under his stewardship with black clubs starting to invade the previously sacred domain of whites and managed against all odds to wrestle power from the traditional rugby powerhouses United and Wanderers, convincingly winning the coveted league titles on numerous occasions.

Bradley Basson: As it stands, rugby at senior level notably the national team is in a good state, though clubs campaigning in the domestic topflight league are left to pick up the scraps.

Overall assessment: On a positive note, we seem to be getting a few things right while neglecting other important aspects. It’s imperative to start engaging in debates with all stakeholders, players, coaches, teachers, parents, government and the game’s administrators to find a remedy to these shortcomings.

Let bygones be bygones
Players’ expectations, personal bias, traditional and cultural differences, government expectations and programmes must be addressed as a matter of urgency. I suggest the inevitable establishment of a barometer that will ensure adherence to transformation programmes.
Let us put our cards on the table and do away with the outdated practice of just selecting players, appointing coaches and team managers at random for the various national teams while placing them in an environment that leaves them high and dry expecting things to be in apple pie order. We need to localize our rugby and refuse to be masqueraded as pawns of other role players.

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