With barely a month left before the curtain opens on the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Cup in England, Namibia has strung together a squad capable of making a serious statement at the quadrennial global showpiece.
The Namibian senior rugby fifteen, Welwitschias, as the team is affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, wrapped up their preparations in fine style by demolishing Zimbabwe (80-6) in a one-sided final of the Windhoek Draught Challenge Cup on home soil last weekend.
The World Cup-bound side will now travel to the United Kingdom, oozing with confidence never experienced before during Namibia’s unsuccessful attempts in their four previous outings on the world stage, where the team is yet to produce a single win.
Stand-in skipper Rohan Kitshoff, who played a blinder in last weekend’s emphatic triumph over Zimbabwe, expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance but cautioned against complacency, saying the team still had some work to do.
“We are about at 80 percent of where we would want to be. The four tests matches against Russia, Kenya and Zimbabwe helped a great deal with our preparations, but we know that we still have to put in a great deal of work before we leave for the World Cup.”
Head coach Phil Davies believes this was Namibia’s best showing since returning from the Nations Cup last month. “I think of all the games we’ve played so far this one was the most accomplished performance we’ve produced, notably in terms of working through our processes. We lacked a bit of patience in the opening half, but rectified that at the break. To come out and score 42 points in the final half was quite pleasing.”
Davies believes the team has made tremendous progress since their encounter against Zimbabwe in June last year. “ It’s important that we progress now, and equally important that we do the same at the World Cup, but it is even more important that we progress after the World Cup and keep the momentum going.
Davies reckons Namibia has a real opportunity to establish itself as a top rugby-playing nation in the next four to five years: “We are now in the top 20 and we need to keep on pushing and building”.
The Welwitschias will round off their preparations at home before traveling to South Africa by the end of this month for a four-day training camp in Durban.